MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 03: Besart Berisha of the Victory celebrares kicking a penalty goal as teammates jump on during the AFC Champions League match between Melbourne Victory and Gamba Osaka at AAMI Park on May 3, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Despite a final’s appearance by Adelaide United, it took the capturing of the Asian Champions League title by the Western Sydney Wanderers for the A-League to be seen as a force in the competition.

The Wanderers 2014 triumph came against all the odds, and sent a message to the other clubs within the A-League that the near impossible suddenly wasn’t so impossible after all.

Fast forward to 2016 and both Sydney FC and the Melbourne Victory have emerged from the group stages and look ready to take on the knock out portion of the competition.

Despite missing the A-League finals, Sydney FC have looked a different side in the continental competition, mirroring the efforts of their Sydney rivals.

Melbourne who failed to win their way through to the second week of the finals, have also looked far more confident in their champions league fixtures.

Both Sydney and Melbourne will enter their round of 16 two-legged fixtures with confidence, despite being made to operate to salary caps that are at times a tiny percentage of the money spent assembling squads of their opponents.

The Victory will host Jeonbuk Motors of the Korean league, who were knocked out in the quarter final stage of last year’s competition, and also lifted the trophy back in 2006. They’ve won their K League division three times out of the past five years including the last two straight seasons.

They’ll enter the first leg refreshed, having seen their weekend fixture moved, allowing them a week off to prepare.

Although the Victory are long removed from their last competitive match, Jeonbuk have played nine recent fixtures, winning five of them, earning a share of the K League competition leagues.

It will be an uphill battle for the Melbourne side, although this is a squad keen to atone for their early finals exit, and subsequent relinquishment of their A-League crown.

Sydney FC have a trip to Shandong Luneng in their near future after topping their group. They too will be confident of continuing to better their past forays into the Champions League.

The Chinese side have two former Brazilian internationals in their ranks with former Argentine playmaker Walter Montillo pulling the strings in midfield.

Shandong Luneng have failed to get past the group stage of the competition in their past six attempts, so they, much like Sydney FC, will be looking to capitalise on a brilliant start to their campaign.

Despite coming off a loss, and not registering an ACL win in their past two games, FC will be chomping at the bit to build on their amazing 4-0 victory over the Glory in their final A-League fixture for the season.

I fully admit to be looking through my green and gold glasses but I can see no reason why both sides can’t qualify from tricky, yet not impossible round of 16 fixtures.

Although both A-League clubs will likely enter their ties as underdogs, both squads have more than enough talent to advance in the competition.

Neither side would have been happy with how their seasons ended in their local competition, but given the history of success enjoyed by both clubs during their history, that should do nothing but drive both sides on.

Even if both sides do come out on the wrong side of their knock out fixtures, one thing is for sure, the A-League now has a firm foothold in the Champions League competition.

Who knows just how far both of these sides can go? With two brilliant sides in Adelaide and the Wanderers re-entering the competition next season, there looks to be no reason why the Australian sides can’t make a habit of going deep into the competition.