Sai Gon Xuan Thanh will be forced into fielding a youthful side against East Bengal as the Vietnamese Cup winners seek to join the I-League side in the last 16 of the AFC by claiming at least a point at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium on Tuesday.
Tran Tien Dai’s side currently hold a three point lead over Malaysia’s Selangor in the battle to join East Bengal in the knockout stage from Group H following last week’s 2-2 draw with Singapore’s Tampines Rovers.
But with Sai Gon also knowing awin will see them leapfrog their hosts at the top of the table to claim home advantage in the last 16, coach Tien Dai will be forced into changes with striker Nguyen Rogerio suspended and several regular doubts due to injury.
“Although the conditions are hot and humid we will strive to earn one point which will enable us to qualify,” said Sai Gon assistant coach Nguyen Liem Thanh.
“Many of our regulars are either injured or suspended and we will try some youngsters in the match.”
East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan will also be forced to re-shuffle his side with captain Methab Hossain and midfielder Manadeep ruled out through suspension.
“Although we need only one point to top the group we will go all out for a win by taking advantage of the home conditions,” said Morgan.
“We would like to qualify for Round of 16 by remaining unbeaten in the group and our players will strive hard to achieve this feat.”
Selangor must beat S.League leaders Tampines and hope East Bengal prevail in Kolkata with the Malaysian Super League holding the potentially crucial head-to-head advantage over Sai Gon.
Irfan Bakti Salim’s side are facing Singaporean opposition for a second consecutive match after being held to a goalless draw by Lions XII in the Malaysian Super League on Saturday.
“We want to concentrate on this game. The players will definitely enjoy playing an attacking game rather than facing a very defensive opponent,” said Salim.
"With Tampines we can expect an open game unlike Lions XII, who like to put 10 players behind the ball.”
Tampines are unable to advance to the knockout stage following last week’s 2-2 draw with Sai Gon, but Nenad Bacina’s side will look to record a timely first win of the campaign.
“We will try to have tactical discipline as much as we are keen to play an entertaining game,” said the Tampines coach.
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