The Lion City Sailors were originally pencilled in to battle in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) playoffs, but the club will now get direct entry to the ACL group stage. 

The AFC confirmed the fact today (21 June) in a media release that revealed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK)’s “one (1) direct slot has been redistributed to SGP in accordance with Articles 3.16 and 3.17 of the Entry Manual” for AFC club competitions.

This means that the Sailors go straight into the competition courtesy of being the top local side in the Singapore Premier League in 2022.

The draw for the group stage will take place on Thursday, 24 August and fixtures are scheduled to take place between September to December 2023.

This will be the Sailors’ second appearance in Asia’s top-tier club competition after a debut outing in 2022 that yielded two wins and one draw.

Leading a young and hungry Class of 2023, Sailors’ captain Hariss Harun is looking forward to the opportunity to battle the cream of the continent once again. 

“The club’s aim has always been to make it back to the ACL and we’re all happy to be able to compete with Asia’s top clubs once again,” said the 32-year-old, who also played in the ACL for Malaysian giants Johor Darul Ta’zim in 2019 and 2020. 

“We’re all aware of the size of the challenge ahead, but challenges like these are what you live for in football and as a team, we will relish this chance. Right now, we’re very much focused on trying to regain the Singapore Premier League (SPL) title but we are excited about embarking on our second ACL campaign.”