Sydney FC have notched a club-first win in Asian women’s club competition, defeating Bam Khatoon 3-0 in Uzbekistan on Monday night.
The first game of Sydney’s inaugural AFC Women’s Club Championship campaign took place against the Iranian club at Stadion Majmuasi in Tashkent, with a Fiona Worts brace bookending Aideen Keane’s goal late in the first half.
Victory over the nine-time Iranian champions gets the Liberty A-League club’s three-game series in Uzbekistan off to a fast start. Sydney will now face FC Nasef on Thursday, October 9 and Incheon Red Angels on Sunday, November 12.
The Sky Blues faced a tough task against Khatoon, considering their international pedigree: of the 11 players who started against Sydney, eight featured for the Iran national team against the Matildas in Perth just last week: Zahra Ghanbari, Mona Hamoudi, Melika Mohammadi, Samaneh Chahkandi, Negin Zandi, Behnaz Taherkhani, Zahra Sarbali and Zahra Khajavi.
The 3-0 result made Sydney FC the first Australian women’s team to win a competitive game in Asia.
The Sky Blues’ Club Championship opener got off to a lightning start when Fiona Worts just minutes after kick-off. The first goal came off an Indiana Dos Santos corner whipped into the six-yard box, where Worts stood in wait to head home off the back of a Khatoon defender.
Then came time for Aideen Keane to strike. Sydney’s second goal came after a strong Sydney tackle in midfield; Khatoon were late to react to the sea of Sky Blue bodies surging forward, with Princess Ibini gathering possession and slipping Keane through to finish past Zahra Khajavi in a one-on-one.
The first half ended with Sydney leading 2-0 – but not before a well-worked Khatoon free-kick found its way to the back post where Zahra Ghanbari headed the ball back across goal and off the post and away.
Bam Khatoon began the second half brightly – but it was Sydney who showed greater cutting edge, with Shea Connors teeing up Worts to score her second from close range just before the hour mark. Sydney’s substitute keeper Tahlia Franco was called into a smart double save soon after her team’s third goal.
Caley Tallon-Henniker attempted to find the back of the net on her Sydney debut late in the piece, before a desperate piece of defensive work from Tori Tumeth in second-half stoppage time which denied Mona Hamoudi a sight of an open goal.
Of Sydney’s second-half substitutes emerged an incredible story, with Jessica Seaman coming off the bench to represent the club for the first time in 15 years. Seaman played for the club in the inaugural season of the formerly-named W-League; it had been 5,412 days between appearances for Seaman before her substitute cameo in Asia.
Injuries to Nat Tobin and Cortnee Vine left the Sky Blues in need of cover on their travels to Uzbekistan, paving the way for the 33-year-old to make a return in Sky Blue 15 years in the making. Seaman played for Central Coast after the Sky Blues, then went on to join Western Sydney Wanderers, last featuring in the Liberty A-League in 2014.
Featured imaged credit: 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC)