Coach Aleksandar Stanojevic feels his Beijing Guoan squad has the depth to deal with a shortage of available attacking threats ahead of Wednesday’s meeting with fellow Group G leaders Bunyodkor in the AFC Champions League.
Ecuadorian midfielder Joffre Guerron is ruled out through suspension after picking up a second yellow card of the campaign in last week’s goalless draw with Bunyodkor in Tashkent, while Mao Jianqing is struggling with a foot injury.
But after Beijing extended their unbeaten start to the new Chinese Super League season with a 1-0 win over fellow AFC Champions League qualifiers Jiangsu Sainty on Friday thanks to a first half goal from Guerron, Stanojevic remains confident his side can extend their unbeaten start in Group G.
“We are all aware of the importance of this match. The players are in good shape, except that Guerron is suspended and Mao Jianqing is having some minor problems with his foot. We will give our best, and with all the support from our fans, we hope to win,” said Stanojevic.
“We have a very strong opponent and we played well against them in the last encounter. They were among the last four in AFC Champions League the last season. They also have five internationals and their national team is looking to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
“I've saw their away game against Hiroshima and they were very good at counterattack. We have to boost our performance to defeat them.
“We will play attacking football, and keep the tradition of scoring home goals. Some of our strikers are injured or suspended, so young players such as Tan Tiancheng may have a chance to prove that he can win the game for us.”
Bunyodkor moved back to the top of the Uzbek League table with a 1-0 win over Gulistan on Friday before making the trip to Beijing, although coach Mirdjalal Kasimov accepts a point will be an acceptable result for the 2012 semi-finalists in the Chinese capital.
“We played against Beijing Guoan a week ago and they are a good team,” said Bunyodkor coach Kasimov.
“The match is decisive for the qualification and we hope to win. We have worked hard towards this target, although there are various factors influencing the result of a football match and a draw is acceptable for us.”
A positive result in Beijing, meanwhile, could prove costly for Sanfrecce Hiroshima with the J.League champions on the verge of elimination after suffering a third consecutive defeat by Pohang Steelers last week.
A win for either Beijing or Bunyodkor, coupled with win for the 2009 champions at The Steelyard, would end the maiden continental campaign of Hajime Moriyasu’s Sanfrecce after Pohang posted a 1-0 win on Japan last week to join Beijing and Bunyodkor at the top of the table.
“We cannot afford to lose again so we must get three points,” said Sanfrecce coach Moriyasu.
“We lost the last match at home because Pohang played very focused short passing, therefore we need to pressure Pohang’s attack with our own pressing strategy.
“The players are in a good condition and I am very optimistic.”
Pohang, meanwhile, will look to take advantage of any slip ups in Beijing to boost their chances of securing a place in the Round of 16 for the first time since 2010.
“To make sure we qualify for the Round of 16 we must win,” said Pohang coach Hwang Sun-hong.
“Hiroshima have a lot of strong aspects, they are also very well organised so we must be very well prepared if we are to win.
“Both teams are in a similar physical position having played continuous matches so I am planning to use all the best players.
“I anticipate that Hiroshima will adopt an aggressive strategy and we are ready to respond.”