Injury-hit Muang Thong hope for boost
Muang Thong United coach Henrique Calisto hopes an exciting atmosphere at the Thunderdome Stadium will be enough to see the injury-hit Thais through their AFC Cup last-16 match against Al Ahed and into the quarter-finals.
Muang Thong impressed in reaching the knockout stage, topping Group G and conceding just one goal in six matches, but have a number of players struggling with injury as they prepare to welcome the Lebanese side to Bangkok.
"We played well in the group stage and have a well-deserved home game," Calisto said. "But we have six or seven people that are under an injury cloud. Defender Nataporn Phanrit will miss the game because of muscle soreness. Teerasil Dangda is only 50-50 for the match also. We want to rest players but we also must win this game too."
Al Ahed qualified despite losing four games and coach Mahmoud Hamoud is well aware his team are underdogs. "We worked hard in the group stages to stay in the competition after losing our first match but we intend to work hard and play better and our teamwork has improved," he said.
"We are aware that Muang Thong have only conceded one goal (in the tournament) so far. The majority of our team are from the national team so we are confident we can score."
Dempo travel to Duhok
Dempo travel to Iraq side Duhok with boss Armando Colaco keen for his players to savour the occasion. "I have told the boys that they need not worry about the result. The idea is to enjoy the game," he said.
"Duhok are an unknown entity to us. I have not managed to have a look at their videos but I have heard that they are extremely tough opponents, especially when playing at home. We are going into the match with an open mind and that should be advantageous to us.
"My team has hardly had any rest but despite the hectic schedule they have always put their best foot forward. We have the I-League to take care of back home and I don't want them to be under any pressure."
Duhok coach Akram Salman, meanwhile, warned his side not to be complacent against a team that lost 9-0 at Nasaf in the group stage. "We are not taking Dempo lightly. They are a good side and can cause us real problems," Salman said.
"We have prepared ourselves for all eventualities, including this possibility that the match could eventually head into extra time. Dempo are no weaklings. They have been playing in the AFC Cup regularly for the past four years and that experience should give them an edge. They know what it takes to progress in this competition and we should not underestimate their abilities."
Nasaf host Al Faisaly
Nasaf, who scored 30 goals in six Group A games, host Al Faisaly with manager Anatoly Demyanenko promising more of the same. "In football, it is easier to destroy an attack than to create one," said the Ukrainian. "However, I believe in our midfielders and forwards but we'll try to keep a clean sheet because the team that opens the scoring is more likely to prevail."
Coach Rateb Al Awadat insisted the Jordanians will not be intimidated by their opponents' firepower. "We know that Nasaf are a serious contender," he said. "No wonder this team won all their matches in Group A. However, tomorrow we will go out onto the pitch with a desire to win. There will be rich international experience in our side.
"Our team has played three times in the AFC Cup finals and also participated in other tournaments. We have no-one injured or suspended in the squad and all players are ready for the match."
Finally, Singaporeans Tampines Rovers travel to Iraq to face Arbil with the home side starting favourites after topping Group E in impressive fashion.