Five things we learned from this week’s AFC Champions League action


Only two of 16 games took place in the Asian Champions League this week but those matches could have a big impact on how the tournament plays out. Here is five big talking points from this week's action in the ACL.

Sydney should be happy with point

But both teams will be a little disappointed. Sydney will be kicking themselves for losing a lead with a couple of minutes remaining against a ten-man opponent.

On the other hand, had there not been some wasteful Jeonbuk finishing and an unjust refereeing decision that resulted in a red card to the Koreans and a penalty for the hosts then Sydney would have --at best --been level anyway.

Jeonbuk could have, and will feel that they should have, won the game.

While there will be concern at how often Sydney gave the ball away, there should also be pleasure taken from the performance of Trent Buhagiar.

His equaliser was a fine piece of individual skill as was his contribution --a chesting down of a long pass while on the run --to the move that resulted in the penalty.

Ange Postecoglou the night’s true winner

After outplaying both Jeonbuk and Sydney already in the group, it is hardly a surprise that Yokohama F. Marinos are the strong favourites to top the group. This result means that the Japanese side are five points clear after two games.

It also means that the rest are playing for second place and the late goal from Han Kyo-won puts Jeonbuk in a slightly better position than Sydney.

Shanghai SIPG have yet to enter the fray and who knows in what shape the Chinese powerhouse will be when they finally kick off their continental campaign? Regardless, the group looks to be Yokohama’s.

Antonis shows Taggart how it is done

With the start of South Korea’s league postponed for the immediate future, it is no surprise that players are rusty. Adam Taggart was in the mood in his first season in South Korea last year and finished top of the goal charts but has yet to get going in Asia.

Suwon Bluewings had chances to win at Johor Darul Ta’zim on Tuesday but ended up losing 2-1 to the Malaysian powerhouse.

Taggart had a first half opportunity that the 2019 version would have expected to put away with ease. Instead, the Socceroo striker lifted his shot over the bar from just inside the area and went on to spurn further opportunities.


Antonis showed the way early in the second half. Picking up the ball outside the Johor area, there seemed to be little on but the midfielder turned and curled a lovely left footer into the top corner. It was worthy of winning any game but Suwon lost after a later lapse in concentration at the back.

It has not been a great start to the campaign for the Bluewings and their two Australian stars with two narrow defeats but there is still time.

Champions League staggering on

The coronavirus continues to wreak havoc around the world and especially Asian football. With just two games this week, there is little action between now and April.

The postponement of fixtures was inevitable as was the latest decision to  push back the second round --originally scheduled for June - to August. It gives the whole tournament some breathing space.

The worry is that such space is running out but football is at the mercy of much bigger events.

The Asian Football Confederation has been having ongoing discussions with various parties but ultimately, have to take the lead from governments.

For the next few weeks, the occasional game apart, we wait to see what will happen.

Malaysia --helped by Alistair Edwards --shows the way

Johor’s 2-1 win over Suwon showed why the competition should be expanded to include more countries.

Having four teams from the more established nations creates stagnation and boredom especially when other countries bring more colour, passion and excitement.

Johor, whose domination at the top of Malaysian football has taken place under the steady direction of their Australian technical director, and former Perth Glory coach, Alastair Edwards.

A bumper crowd of 25,000 fans inside a brand new state-of- the- art stadium feverishly cheered them on to a brilliant upset win.

These are the kinds of scenes the Champions League needs more of.