The Western Sydney Wanderers have announced their squad as they prepare to defend their AFC Champions League crown.
Having become the first Australian side to win a significant continental title following their 1-0 win over Al Hilal in the 2014 Final, the Wanderers can make further history with another successful campaign.
Not since Al Ittihad 10 years ago has a team won back-to-back Champions League titles and Wanderers CEO John Tsatsimas said to replicate that is the goal.
“Winning the AFC Champions League will be remembered as a game changer, not just for Western Sydney but for football in Australia,” Tsatsimas said.
“To become champions of Asia against all odds in our debut season was an incredible achievement and set the platform for Australia becoming the first nation to hold the Champions League and Asian Cup at the same time.
“From our inception we have been making history and in the 2015 AFC Champions League we have set the bar high to continue to do so.”
The Champions League campaign will also be the first opportunity for fans to see new singing Kerem Bulut in action following his inclusion in the Champions League squad.
The striker is looking forward to getting on the pitch and can’t wait for his first taste of a packed Parramatta Stadium.
“I’ve been training and learning with the team since I’ve signed so I’m very keen to finally get out there and show the fans what I can do,” said Bulut.
“To walk out at a sold out Wanderland would be the best introduction I can imagine; I’ve watched a lot of footage of the fans during home matches but am yet to experience it in person.
“When you look at our group you see teams who should all be in the knockout rounds so it’s exciting that we’re able to bring such high quality matches to Western Sydney.”
The Wanderers kick-off their Champions League defence next Wednesday, February 25 when they travel to Kashima Antlers before returning to Parramatta Stadium on Wednesday, March 4 to host rivals Guangzhou Evergrande.
Western Sydney Wanderers 2015 AFC Champions League 30 man squad
1. Ante Covic (GK), 2. Shannon Cole, 3. Yusuke Tanaka, 4. Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 5. Brendan Hamill, 6. Antony Golec, 7. Labinot Haliti, 9. Tomi Juric, 10. Yojiro Takahagi, 11. Brendon Santalab, 12. Nikita Rukavytsya, 13. Matthew Spiranovic, 14. Kerem Bulut, 15. Yianni Perkatis, 16. Jaushua Sotirio, 17. Romeo Castelen, 18. Iacopo La Rocca, 19. Mark Bridge, 20. Dean Bouzanis (GK), 23. Jason Trifiro, 25. Sam Gallaway, 30. Thomas Heward-Belle (GK), 31. Alusine Fofanah, 32. Daniel Alessi, 33. Nick Kalmar, 35. Kearyn Baccus, 36. Liam Youlley, 37. Jonathan Aspropotamitis, 38. Steve Kuzmanovski, 39. Shayne D’Cunha
Sponsor moves to the front of the shirt
In off the field news, the Wanderers and Pepper Group Australia have announced that Pepper will feature on the front of the Wanderers 2015 AFC Champions League jersey. Pepper Group Australia, who specialise in offering home loans and car loans to a wide range of Australian consumers, currently appear on the sleeve of the Wanderers A-League jersey and made the decision to expand their affiliation with the acquisition of the Champions League front-of-shirt position following the club’s run to the 2014 title.
2015 AFC Champions League Match Days:
1. Wednesday 25 February 2015 vs Kashima Antlers (away)
2. Wednesday 4 March 2015 v Guangzhou Evergrande (Parramatta Stadium)
3. Wednesday 18 March 2015 v FC Seoul (away)
4. Tuesday 7 April 2015 v FC Seoul (Parramatta Stadium)
5. Tuesday 21 April 2015 v Kashima Antlers (Parramatta Stadium)
6. Tuesday 5 May 2015 v Guangzhou Evergrande (away)
All matches played at Parramatta Stadium will kick off at 7.30pm local time.