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The AFC glory hunter: My secret Australian club

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28th April, 2022

Do people’s A-League Men allegiances change when watching the Asian Football Confederation Champions League?

With the group stages nearly complete, I somehow find myself barracking for Melbourne City, checking their statistics and feeling a sense of pride.

Generally I’ll go for the underdog, but the rules feel different on an international stage.

Happily, I’ll wear the sell-out tag, wanting dearly for an Australian team to succeed, understanding that wealthy clubs have a better chance at lifting the silverware.

Before you counteract the argument by using Western Sydney Wanderers’ previous AFC win, this isn’t 2014 anymore, and football within Asia has improved dramatically. It’s a game of dollars.

Hence, I see City as a credible opponent to other AFC clubs, and one that could go all the way.

Marco Tilio dribbles in the 2021 A-League grand final

(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Having said that, had Central Coast won the FFA Cup, could the Mariners have survived the frantic six-game competition, once they qualified?


It’s a question of player depth, budgets, and the validity of Jason Cummings being allowed to play.

Only Melbourne Victory can really answer that, since history shows Tony Popovic’s hands lovingly lifting the knock-out trophy.

Coincidently, their brave 4-3 qualifying loss to Japan’s Vissel Kobe equated to an unbeaten A-League Men run back in Australia.

That means missing out on the AFC may have been a blessing in disguise.

The same could be said about the Mariners and their charge into the A-League Men top six.

Conversely, Sydney FC have briefly dropped out of the finals race, and their AFC days have also fizzled.

Adam Le Fondre celebrates.

(Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)


To date, over half a million people have viewed clips featuring A-League Men teams on YouTube, via the official AFC hub. The figure is well over 600,000 downloads of the highlights package.

Although these clips only average around three minutes in length, their broader universal appeal shouldn’t be dismissed.

In a world where mainstream newspapers tend to print tinny articles on football, our online football community is thriving instead.

Having played their first match against BG Pathum United, Melbourne City’s efforts were viewed over 200,000 times.

These are excellent numbers, considering the modest size of the smaller Thai team, and its boutique 10,000-capacity home ground.

If the competition was held down under, I have no doubt Central Coast could compete with little financial restraint. The same goes for other clubs on a tight budget.

However for now, my heart yearns for Melbourne City, especially when combatting the biggest and richest teams in Asia.