It has been a disappointing and frustrating campaign for Sydney so far this season. Steve Corica’s Sky Blues shared a goalless draw with Jeonbuk Motors the other day in the opening match of their AFC Champions League group stage campaign. They now come up against a Hoang Anh Gia Lai side that started their group stage with a 2-1 defeat against Yokohama F. Marinos in their opening match. Home advantage for Hiang Anh Gia Lai will make this a low-scoring encounter but Sydney should still come out on top.
Getting through to the groups - where they would play South Korean outfit Jeonbuk, Vietnamese champions Hoang Anh Gia Lai and the Kevin Muscat-coached Yokohama F Marinos - comes with added risk for Sydney boss Steve Corica.
Corica's team, who are enduring the worst run of his tenure, would have to spend three weeks in Ho Chi Minh City with the backlog of domestic games putting his squad's ALM finals hopes under severe threat.
"It's going to be extremely difficult," he said.
"It's difficult enough as it is with everything going on around us with COVID-19, injuries, players away with the national team.
"Then if we get through to the group stage we're going to be away for three weeks so a lot of (ALM) games will have to be brought forward for us.
"If we do (qualify) we will be playing every three days from here until the end of the season."
The Sky Blues boss has opted to exclude new Dutch signing Luciano Narsingh and Serbian Milos Ninkovic from his squad due to the AFC rules on foreign players.
Corica's side face Kaya on Tuesday before backing up against Western United on Friday in the A-League Men.
After their derby loss to the Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday, the Sydney boss has promised changes as they aim to snap a five-game winless streak.
"It's not about what we did last week," he said. "That wasn't one of our best performances.
"We're at home and have the opportunity to advance to the group stage which is important to the club.
"There's going to be quite a few changes. This will be the case all season and you've got to freshen up the squad."
Kaya arrived in Sydney on Sunday and English manager Graham Harvey, who began his coaching career in Queensland, tipped former Sydney-born midfielder Jesse Curran to have a big impact on proceedings.
"He's got a really strong desire to prove himself," Harvey said.
"There's obviously a number of players throughout Asia who want to prove themself to get an opportunity to play in the A-League. The stage is set for him."