ACL scheduling not helping our big clubs

Cameron Crestani of the Roar and Xisco Jimenez of Muangthong United compete for the ball in the Asian Champions League clash last week.
Cameron Crestani of the Roar and Xisco Jimenez of Muangthong United compete for the ball in the Asian Champions League clash last week. Chris Hyde

THE second round Asian Champions League group games get under way this week for Australian teams and I have to say I fear for the all three A-League clubs.

Brisbane Roar is travelling to Korea to face Ulsan Hyundai, while Western Sydney Wanderers faces a daunting trip to China to face cashed-up Shanghai SIPG.

Both those games are on Tuesday, while Adelaide United will also head to China to play Jiangsu Suning on Wednesday.

Of course we want our A-League clubs to play against the top sides in Asia but it shouldn't be to the detriment of players in our domestic league.

At the moment qualifying for the biggest club competition in Asia appears to be a bit of a poisoned chalice for A-League clubs.

While the likes of John Aloisi at the Roar, Tony Popovic at the Wanderers and Guillermo Amor at Adelaide would relish taking on the big boys of Asia, it appears to be coming at a cost on the home front.

Speaking earlier this month when his side had to travel to China before flying to Melbourne then a home ACL game followed by a trip to Perth, Aloisi said: "It doesn't make sense.

"They knew that we had an opportunity to qualify for the Champions League and we've got two trips away to Perth in this period. Other coaches that have been in Champions League talk about this and it doesn't seem to get anywhere.

"Nothing's being fixed. There's a FIFA ruling that you can't play a game within 72 hours of another game but we had to. Player safety has to come into play. We talk about player safety in heat. What about travel and time between games?"

This past week has seen just how playing in the ACL can affect performances and why the FFA has to make the scheduling more realistic.

The Wanderers were smashed 4-0 by Gamba Osaka in midweek but then had to travel to Perth and looked understandably jaded in losing 2-0 to the Glory.

Aloisi was not making excuses for his side's 2-1 home loss to Wellington but the number of games in such a short period has to have taken its toll.

I understand the importance of the ACL but surely - and the FFA has had a long time to arrange the scheduling - A-League clubs should not have to fly to Perth and then expect their players to get on a plane a day after for another 10 hours or so to the Far East.

Duty of care must come into play somewhere down the line otherwise A-League teams are facing players burning out. I can understand the coaches' frustrations and can also see why they have to juggle their squads.

But some tweaking to the fixtures list here and there would sort out all the angst.

Topics:  adelaide united a-league asian champions league brisbane roar sportopinion western sydney wanderers

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