'It was an extremely tough decision': Dutch import left out of Sydney FC's ACL squad

Dutch defender Jop van der Linden was the unlucky man who won’t be involved in Sydney FC’s 2019 AFC Champions League campaign after Steve Corica named his 29-man squad on Tuesday.

The Sky Blues open their campaign on Wednesday, March 6 against Korean outfit Ulsan Hyundai at Jubilee Stadium in Kogarah.

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While Iranian striker Reza Ghoochannejhad fills the Asian player spot in the squad, only three of the club’s other four imports could make the cut.

And Corica went for English striker Adam Le Fondre, Serbian playmaker Milos Ninkovic and Dutch attacker Siem de Jong for the club’s Group Stage tilt.

Siem de Jong
Siem de Jong

It means Dutch defender van der Linden won’t be included in the ACL squad instead, he’ll be a key figure in the club’s push for a third straight Hyundai A-League Premiership.

“We had to leave one player out and it was an extremely tough decision,” Corica told Sydney FC’s official website.

“Jop is a fantastic professional, he has a great attitude and we’ll need his experience with a busy schedule towards the end of the season.”

Sydney’s squad contains 13 players with previous ACL experience, while they also have eight players under the age of 20.

The Sky Blues are in a tricky group, pitted alongside Korea’s Ulsan, Shanghai SIPG of China and Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale.

“We are looking forward to a great campaign and the huge challenge of competing against the best of Asian football,” Corica said.

“We’ve been drawn against the Champions of China and Japan, as well as Korea’s third-best club, so it’s a difficult task but one we are looking forward to.

“It’s exciting and something different for our players, particularly the younger boys, for whom the experience will one to relish and learn from.”

Sydney FC’s 29-man AFC Champions League squad

1. Andrew Redmayne, 2. Aaron Calver, 3. Ben Warland, 4. Alex Wilkinson, 6. Joshua Brillante, 7. Michael Zullo, 8. Paulo Retre, 9. Adam Le Fondre, 10. Milos Ninkovic, 11. Daniel De Silva, 13. Brandon O'Neill, 14. Alex Brosque, 16. Reza Ghoochannejhad, 17. Anthony Caceres, 18. Jacob Tratt, 20. Alex Cisak, 21. Mitchell Austin, 22. Siem De Jong, 23. Rhyan Grant, 24. Cameron Devlin, 25. Joel King, 27. Jerry Skotadis, 28. Marco Tilio, 30. Tom Heward-Belle, 31. Luke Ivanovic, 32. Jordi Swibel, 33. Liam McGing, 34. Patrick Scibilio, 37. Hamish Lamberton.