MORE than a million dollars’ worth of talent will be left behind when Sydney FC embark on their Asian Champions League campaign next week, after marquee forward Filip Holosko was omitted from the Sky Blues’ squad for the ACL.
Holosko and defender Jacques Faty were the two of the club’s five visa players left out of the finalised group, with ACL regulations allowing just three foreigners plus an extra Asian-qualified player.
Holosko missed Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to Perth with a hamstring complaint and the injury was used by Sydney boss Graham Arnold to justify Holosko’s ACL exclusion.
But a player signed on a one-year deal worth $1.1m has proved distinctly underwhelming for Sydney, despite scoring six goals in 16 games.
Faty appears rather more unlucky, having overcome an early-season form slump and returning close to the levels of last season.
Sydney will travel to Japan early on Sunday – just hours after the derby – for an opening clash with J-League giants Urawa Red Diamonds, before a dash home to take on Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on the Saturday.
Sydney will also travel to Korea to face Pohang Steelers, and China to take on Asian powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande, in their first ACL campaign since 2011.
“I’ve spoken with all of the players and they are all good with the decision,” Arnold said of his decision to omit Holosko and Faty. “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.”