Sydney FC have named a 25 man squad for their AFC Champions League 2016 campaign, however AFC rules dictate that only three foreign players may make the cut.
Serbians Milos Ninkovic and Milos Dimitrijevic, and Senegalese international Mickael Tavares are the three players included, and Jacques Faty and Filip Holosko set to concentrate on the Hyundai A-League.
Manager Graham Arnold cannot wait to hit the ground running and admits it will be a huge challenge.
“The AFC Champions League is a fantastic tournament and we will come up against some of the best teams in Asia,” he said.
“It’s a huge statement for Sydney FC to be one of only two Australian clubs to be competing in it and I’m looking forward to the challenge of coaching in the tournament for the third time.”
With Sydney FC sitting inside the top six, Arnold believes he's picked the three players that allow most versatility in both competitions.
“I’ve spoken with all of the players and they are all good with the decision,” he said.
“I’ve picked the squad based on trying to succeed in both the Champions League and in the A-League.
“There’s going to be a lot of travel and a lot of games in a short period of time and we have to be very careful how we use the players so they don’t break down.
“Filip has struggled getting used to the hard pitches in the A-League this season having come from Europe and has been nursing a niggling hamstring injury all campaign.
“He wants to concentrate on the A-League season and get used to playing on the hard pitches. After speaking with him we both felt that he would be best served saving himself for the A-League and avoiding the long travel which could put his whole season in jeopardy.
“He is a power player with a bigger frame and the travel combined with the heavy schedule would have caused him a few problems.
“We brought in David Carney which provides us with ample cover on the flank, and we still have Christopher Naumoff, Andrew Hoole and George Blackwood who can play there as well.
“Jacques is equally happy with avoiding the long travel and preserving his body to win the A-League title and again we have a big squad to cover his absence.
“They understand that it’s a difficult decision and one we have made with the ambition of winning both competitions. It’s been explained to them clearly that they aren’t being dropped or disrespected.”
Both Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory will have to juggle A-League and Champions League fixtures in the lead up to the A-League finals.comments