As the Sydney FC Women prepare to head off to Uzbekistan for the 2023 AFC Women’s Club Championship, we take a look back at the only other time that the Sky Blues took to the skies and played a competitive match overseas.
The year is 2013, and Sydney FC are coming off the back of winning the 2012/13 W-League season, beating Melbourne Victory 3-1 at AAMI Park. Because of this victory, they were invited to partake in the 2013 International Women’s Club Championship that was held in Japan from the 30th November to the 8th of December.
Five teams were invited to participate, the champions of Europe (VfL Wolfsburg), Australia (Sydney FC), South America (Colo Colo), Japan (INAC Kobe Leonessa) and the runners up of the Japanese League (NTV Beleza). While VfL Wolfsburg won the UEFA Women’s Champions League that season, they declined the offer to play in the tournament and were replaced by Chelsea FC from England.
The Sky Blues were drawn into the play-off and took on Japanese league runners up, NTV Beleza in the first match of the tournament, winning 1-0. Emma Kete scored the only goal of the contest for Alen Stajcic’s side in front of over 1,000 people at the Kanko Stadium.
After progressing through that, they met the UEFA representative in the Semi Final, Chelsea Women’s FC. It was a back and forth affair between the English and Australian sides and both teams created an entertaining spectacle.
Laura Coombs opened the scoring for the Blues but despite creating more chances and shots, Alen Stajcic’s side went two then three goals down in the second half through Eniola Aluko and Yuki Ogiwi. Not to be out-done, the Sky Blues fought back and netted twice in the space of six minutes through Renee Rollason and Jodie Taylor. They pushed on for an equaliser to force spot kicks, but they weren’t able to find a way past Marie Hourihan again and the match finished 3-2 with Chelsea heading onto the final and Sydney FC off to the 3rd place play-off. Funnily enough, current Chelsea striker Sam Kerr played the entire 90 minutes up front for Sydney FC that evening and had four shots at goal against her future employers.
Three days later, Sydney FC took on Colo Colo from Chile in the 3rd place play-off in front of 1,000 people in Kagoshima. This was a thrilling 90 minutes that took place for the bronze medal and Colo Colo took the lead in the 10th minute from the boot of Yusmery Ascanio. Stajcic rallied his troops and found themselves in the lead at the change of ends thanks to two goals in the space of a minute from Ellyse Perry and Trudy Camilleri.
The Sky Blues extended their lead in the second half as Renee Rollason netted her second of the tournament and they looked home and hosed. However, the Chileans were not done and scored two late goals to send the game to spot kicks.
Sydney FC did not waiver from the spot, scoring four of their five takes, with the only miss coming from Casey Dumont, goalkeeper at the time. Sam Kerr stepped up and slotted the winning penalty to secure a third place finish for her side as Sydney FC concluded their debut on the world stage.
Current Sydney FC captain Nat Tobin came off the bench during that 3rd place play-off, making her second ever appearance for the Sky Blues, going on to make over 100 since then. Caitlin Foord, current Matilda, was also included in the travelling squad and made an appearance at each stage of the tournament.
This time around, Sydney FC will be looking to create more history in their first ever appearance in the AFC Women’s Club Championship.