Last eight beckons in AFC Cup
Song Lam Nghe An boss Nguyen Huu Thang faces a number of selection problems when they host Persipura Jayapura in the last 16 of the AFC Cup at Vinh Stadium on Wednesday.
The Vietnamese side will be without Kavin Bryan after the striker broke his leg in a domestic victory over Dong Tam Long An last weekend. The Jamaican, who has scored seven goals for Song Lam Nghe An in the V-League, is likely to be sidelined until the end of the season while centre-back Thierry Ngale has joined Ha Noi ACB on loan after the Nigerian gained Vietnamese citizenship.
The Vietnam Cup holders will also be unable to field playmaker Phan Nhu Thuat, while striker Nguyen Cong Manh followed Ngale to the capital. "Kavin Bryan's injury obviously affects my team's performance," said Huu Thang. "He has been our main force up front in V-League. Though not playing frequently in the AFC Cup, Kavin is still the first-choice striker.
"His absence means that I have to re-arrange the formation with Andre Fagan. This is not a bad replacement but Fagan can not work alone up front like Kavin. However, I still believe my players will remain inspired and keep their momentum. We are familiar with playing against Indonesian sides."
Persipura struggled away from Indonesia in the group stage, picking up just two points in three games but boss Jacksen Thiago believes they can improve that record against SLNA. "Song Lam Nghe An delivered very good football during the group stage," he said.
"They have many young players with a lot of talent. Their main power comes from the midfield, where many creative midfielders are always ready to break through our defence. However, we are not too scared to play against them. We will do our best to hold Song Lam Nghe An before defeating them. We must try to improve our performance when playing away from home."
Sriwijaya faces Thai challenge
Chonburi head coach Withaya Laohakul wants a focused performance from his men when they entertain Sriwijaya at Chonburi Stadium. Defender Darko Rakocevic is suspended for the clash and Withaya underlined he expects a professional job from the Thais. "To write smart tactics on the board doesn't do anything," he said. "The players must perform as planned if we are going to win tomorrow."
Assistant manager Kas Hartadi feels Sriwijaya can cover the absence of talismanic striker Keith Gumbs. "We have a secret weapon to replace our suspended striker, but we can't name him here," added Hartadi. "I am confident we can advance to the quarter-final round, because our fast-paced pressure strategy can work on the road."
Shurtan boss Edgar Gess is keen to extend his side's debut campaign when they visit Al Wehdat. "We'll go out looking for a victory," he insisted. "I will not predict the score, but I will say that we only play to win. I have watched a few dvds of Al Wehdat's matches and I think we will face a very strong side. Remember that Al Wehdat have completed a double, winning both the Jordan championship and Cup."
Finally, Kuwait Sports Club travel to rivals Al Qadsia with the opportunity to erase the disappointment of missing out on the domestic title to their rivals by knocking last year's finalists out of the AFC Cup at Mohammed Al Hamad Stadium.