Persipura Jayapura boss Jacksen Tiago admitted he was concerned about the threat of South China stars Nicky Butt and Mateja Kezman when the two sides clash in the AFC Cup today.
The Indonesians lead Group H alongside Chonburi on seven points with South China two further back as the trio battle it out for two places in the knockout stage. The two sides drew 1-1 in their opening game of the competition in Hong Kong but Tiago is wary of their opponents' firepower in the return at Mandala Stadium.
"Yes, we held them to a draw in Hong Kong, but it doesn't automatically mean that we're going to beat them," said the Brazilian. "Football is not mathematics. We cannot afford to be too confident. South China are a good team and they have players who have plied their trade in Europe. We have to be very careful.
"On paper, South China is the strongest team in this group. They have Nicky Butt, who played for Manchester United and Mateja Kezman, who was once so lethal in European football. I don't doubt that our fans would love to see them play tomorrow. It's not everyday you can see ex-English Premiership players playing in Jayapura."
South China boss Chan Yo Hin was equally respectful. "Persipura are a very good team as they showed in our first meeting," he said. "They're very fast and we have to watch their striker, Boaz Solossa, closely. He can create chances out of nothing and his speed is something we have to cope with. All of our players are ready to perform, including Kezman and Nicky Butt. Their experience could be useful for us."
Chonburi will be missing key defenders, Anucha Kitpongsri and Natthaphong Samana along with midfielder Ekkaphan Inthasen due to injury when they host bottom side East Bengal. "There will be a slight change in formation and strategy tomorrow due to the injuries," admitted boss Withaya Laohakul.
"It will be hard for us to fully replace those injured. My main concern is although we have scored a lot of goals this season, we have also conceded goals quite easily so we need to shore that up."
Calisto returns to Vietnam
Former Vietnam boss Henrique Calisto returns to the country for the first time since his departure when his Muang Thong side face Hanoi T&T in Group G knowing just a point will see the Thais progress to the next stage. "Vietnam has given me many good memorable highlights in my career," he said.
"However, I am a professional football coach, so I will never let emotions and affection distract my professionalism. Hanoi T&T are a good team. They have ambition and some good players like Le Cong Vinh."
Tampines Rovers host bottom club Victory SC , who are yet to record a point in four games, where a win over the Maldivians will clinch their place in the knockout phase.
Duhok will look to get their Group C campaign back on track when they entertain bottom side Al Nasr following last week's unexpected 1-0 home defeat to Al Jaish. The win saw the Syrians move level on points with the Iraqis and two behind leaders Al Faisaly ahead of their clash in Amman.
Finally, Kuwait SC will look to advance their claim on the final qualification place in Group D by seeing off Al Suwaiq at home. Leaders Al Wehdat have already clinched one of the spots and go in search of a fifth consecutive triumph over Al Talaba in Amman.