Sydney FC Captain Alex Wilkinson is looking forward to a familiar opponent on Wednesday night, as the Sky Blues kick off their 2020 AFC Champions League campaign away against Yokohama F. Marinos.
Wilkinson will face the man that gave him his national team debut, with the Japanese side coached by former Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou.
A former Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Head Coach, Postecoglou took Yokohama to their first Championship in 16 years, and is the same man responsible for Wilkinson starting all three games of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
“It’s good to see an Aussie coach doing so well in a foreign country. We haven’t seen a lot of that in recent years,” Wilkinson said.
“It’s not easy to go into a new team and mould it into the way a coach wants to play and then to win the league in his first season; huge credit to him.
“It adds an extra storyline to the game as well. We’re really looking forward to playing Yokohama because they are a great team with a great coach and it will be a difficult game.
“We’ve obviously come here [to Japan] to win and we want to get maximum points,” he added.
Following three draws and three losses in last year’s AFC Champions League, Wilkinson is eyeing a more successful campaign in 2020, fresh off the back of the devastating form Sydney FC have in the Hyundai A-League that sees them sit 10 points clear on top.
“We’ve been performing well in the [Hyundai] A-League over the past few months so we are becoming very confident with our game and our ability to get the job done,” Wilkinson said.
“It’s our first [AFC] Champions League game of the season and especially after last year, we should have done a bit better, we’ve all been waiting for it to kick off.
“We’ve had time to acclimatise to the conditions here and all preparations are just like a normal game. We have a look at our game, and how we can exploit our opponents’ weaknesses as well which makes it a little bit easier for us.”
Head Coach Steve Corica named nine youth players in the Sky Blues’ AFC Champions League Squad and Wilkinson says the competition is a good way for young players to experience different styles of football.
“I tell them to just enjoy it. It’s such a great experience to play in the [AFC] Champions League,” he said.
“You’re playing all these teams from different countries and cultures, as well as different styles of play.
“It gets them experiencing different style games with some being slower or faster and sometimes there’s a bit more space out on the pitch.
“For some of the young boys coming through it’s valuable for their experience and development going forward.
“It’s also a good way for the younger boys to push for some more game time with us playing so many games in a short amount of time.
“It’ll keep them tracking along to a path and perhaps more game time with the club in the future,” he added.
Sydney FC start their 2020 AFC Champions League campaign away to Yokohama F. Marinos on Wednesday 19th February (kick off 9:30pm AEDT).
Watch on Fox Sports Channel 505 or follow @SydneyFC on Twitter for live updates from the clash.
The Sky Blues return to continental action at home at Jubilee Stadium against Korean Champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC on March 4. Secure you seats to see Sydney FC take on Asia’s best.