The Wanderers are Australia's top-ranked team in Asia, Adam Peacock takes a look at what it all means.
The Western Sydney Wanderers are Australia’s biggest club in Asia.
Not my words.
Nor the fervent claims of the euphoric thousands of Pirtek, feeling good about the world in a way only 6 in a row can make you feel.
This is actually a claim made, and solidified through action by the Asian Football Confederation.
We all like to measure ourselves against some form of mathematical equation, be it through friends or followers through Social media, to how many people RSVP to a birthday party. Or better still, how many randoms rock up to a birthday bash after it’s shared on social media.
So, the AFC, better late than never to the party, have recently introduced a rankings system for club sides throughout the region.
It’s quite simple. Win or draw matches in the Champions League, you go up the rankings. Lose, get nothing. Same for the second-tier AFC Cup, which, at this moment in time, Australian teams don’t compete in.
Plus, the more teams in the rankings from any one confederation helps with a few bonus points. Far be it from me to explain more – here’s a link to how it exactly works.
Keep in mind this ranking system doesn’t take into account domestic competitions. It is purely based on AFC-run competitions, and results from as far back as four years ago count.
Which is why the Wanderers are ranked Australia’s number one club as far as the AFC is concerned.
All because of 2014. Have we forgotten already? True, it might have been washed away thanks to the horrid results of the last Hyundai A-League campaign and a higher turnover of stock than after a blackout at the fish markets, but the heroics of that magical carpet ride all the way to Riyadh still counts for something.
Interestingly, Central Coast is the second best Australian team on the list at 28.
Now before Wanderers fans get carried away with the fact Sydney FC is not on the list and Yemen’s Al Yarmouk is (no doubt there is a football hipster rocking Yarmouk’s kit at a local organic coffee shop near you) – there’s a simple reason. The Sky Blues haven’t played in an AFC competition in the timeframe allotted. That changes next February when the 2016 ACL starts, along with Melbourne Victory – who are destined to improve greatly from the current spot of 55 and Adelaide United, who need to get through a playoff to boost themselves from number 35.
Brisbane is the other Aussie club represented at 49.
Powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande top the rankings and will be hard to topple for a while yet. Especially when they simply let Marcelo Lippi go, hire Fabio Cannavaro, move on from him and bring in another World Cup winner in Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Interestingly, while we sneer at the hint of a player heading to Saudi Arabia for a payday, 4 of the top 11 clubs are from the Kingdom.
This system isn’t perfect and perhaps there needs to be a weighting system introduced as results from years ago fade, but it’s a start.
And further incentive for a club like Wanderers to get back into the Champions League and mix it with Asia’s elite.
The full list of rankings can be found here.