Sydney FC has named a 26-man squad to compete in the 2020 AFC Champions League.
Head Coach Steve Corica has named nine AFC Champions League debutants with the most notable players being Ryan McGowan, Alex Baumjohann and Trent Buhagiar.
Alex Baumjohann (Germany), Kosta Barbarouses (New Zealand) and Adam Le Fondre (England) make up the Sky Blues overseas contingent, with the competition limiting each club to three non-Australian or Asian players in the squad.
It means Serbian maestro Milos Ninkovic won’t be included and will remain in Australia to help lead the Sky Blues to more success in the Hyundai A-League.
Ninkovic says the long travel and the effect that has on his recovery was a big and realistic factor in his decision to stay at home.
“Travelling during the AFC Champions League is very tough, especially when we must play Hyundai A-League games back in Australia, sometimes two days later.
“The recovery time isn’t very long at all and it’s important for me to stay fit for the rest of the season.
“There are so many games in a short period and even though I want to play, I think it’s best for me to focus on retaining our Hyundai A-League Championship,” Ninkovic said.
“I’d rather be able to give 100 per cent every time I step on the pitch for our Members and fans, and the risk of not being able to do that is higher when playing in both competitions.”
Head Coach Steve Corica said: “We have a very good squad but it’s another very tough group with the Japanese and Korean Champions as well as Shanghai SIPG who we all know have Oscar, Hulk and Arnautovic at their disposal.
“However it should make for some highly exciting matches for our Members and fans and it’s fantastic challenge for our players.
“We played some very good football last year and if we can do the same again this year, plus have a little luck go our way, then we have a chance of getting out of the group.
“Milos is the ultimate professional and one of the most selfless people I’ve ever met.
“His decision illustrates exactly how much he cares about this club and his team-mates and we completely respect him.”
The Sky Blues have also included seven young guns who played in the club’s Foxtel Y-League Championship winning squad. These include the likes of Jordan Swibel, Marco Tilio and Calem Nieuwenhof and Anton Mlinaric.
Sydney FC have six AFC Champions League matches stretching from February to May. The Sky Blues take on Japanese J1 League Champions Yokohoma F. Marinos, Korean K-League Champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Chinese club Shanghai SIPG.
Sydney FC’s AFC Champions League 2020 Squad:
1. Andrew REDMAYNE
2. Patrick FLOTTMANN
3. Benjamin WARLAND
4. Alexander WILKINSON
5. Alexander BAUMJOHANN
6. Ryan MCGOWAN
7. Michael ZULLO
8. Paulo RETRE
9. Adam LE FONDRE
11. Kosta BARBAROUSES
12. Trent BUHAGIAR
16. Joel KING
17. Anthony CACERES
18. Luke IVANOVIC
19. Christopher ZUVELA
20. Thomas HEWARD-BELLE
21. Harry VAN DER SAAG
23. Rhyan GRANT
24. Marco TILIO
26. Luke BRATTAN
27. Jordan SWIBEL
28. Calem NIEUWENHOF
29. Anton MLINARIC
30. Adam PAVLESIC
31. Thomas MAIN
32. Callum TALBOT
Matches & Dates* (Kick off times TBC)
AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP H
Sydney FC vs Shanghai SIPG – Wednesday 12th February – Jubilee Stadium
Yokohama F. Marinos vs Sydney FC – Wednesday 19th February - Yokohama International Stadium
Sydney FC vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC – Wednesday 4th March - Jubilee Stadium
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC vs Sydney FC – Tuesday 7th April - Jeonju World Cup Stadium
Shanghai SIPG vs Sydney FC – Tuesday 21st April - Yuanshen Stadium
Sydney FC vs Shanghai SIPG – Wednesday 29th April or Thursday 30th April – Jubilee Stadium
Sydney FC vs Yokohama F. Marinos – Tuesday 5th May - Jubilee Stadium