The Lion City Sailors Women’s Team is set to compete in the inaugural season of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Champions League (AWCL), which will get underway in August. 

The AFC confirmed earlier today (14 June) that the Sailors are among the 22 clubs – one from each country – that will participate in the first-ever flagship club competition for women’s football in Asia. 

Clubs from the top eight AFC Member Associations (MAs), based on the latest FIFA Women’s World Ranking as of 15 March 2024, will qualify directly for the Group Stage. This stage features three groups of four teams each, and will be contested in a centralised league format from October 6 to 12.

The remaining 14 clubs, including the Sailors, will compete in the Preliminary Stage, which consists of four groups: two groups of four teams, and two groups of three teams. This stage will be played in a centralised league format between August 25 and 31 in either Malaysia, Thailand, Jordan, or Saudi Arabia. The winners of each group will then advance to the Group Stage.

The knockout stages will be played next year, with the final slated for May 24, 2025. 

The competition represents a huge opportunity for the Sailors Women, who have dominated the domestic Deloitte Women’s Premier League (WPL), winning the last two league titles without suffering a single defeat.

An off-season shakeup to inject youth into the squad has further reinvigorated the side. The reigning WPL champions have won all seven of their games so far, and currently lead the nine-team WPL by three points.

While acknowledging that the AWCL will present a significant challenge for his team, Sailors Women Head Coach Daniel Ong believes his players have the ability to rise to the occasion and showcase Singaporean women’s football in the best possible light.

“It’s a real honour for the club to represent Singapore in the first-ever AWCL,” said the 35-year-old. “We’re excited by the opportunity to test ourselves against high-calibre opposition and see how we match up against our counterparts from Asia. 

“More importantly, we want the players to have this huge goal to aspire to as they continually elevate themselves. I’m confident they’ll be able to give a good account of themselves in this competition.”

Sailors Women captain Umairah Hamdan echoed these sentiments, adding, “Seeing our Men’s professional team represent the nation in the ACL for the past two seasons truly inspired us and fuelled our determination to strive for a similar goal. 

“It’ll be challenging for sure, but these matches will bring out the best in us. We have many young players here, and our participation in this tournament will help us improve both individually and as a team.”

The official draw ceremonies for both the 2024/25 AWCL Preliminary Stage and Group Stage will be conducted on Thursday, 18 July at the AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.