Ahead of their Group E decider against FC Seoul, Melbourne Victory assistant coach Steve Kean expressed his excitement in the build up to Matchday Six of the 2020 AFC Champions League.
Sitting in third place on four points, just two points behind their today’s opponents, a win for Melbourne Victory could see them reach the Round of 16 for the first time since 2016. The first match between the two sides ended in a 1-0 win for FC Seoul courtesy of Park Chu-young’s early effort.
“It has been a very quick turnaround from the last match, so we focused on video analysis and recovery,” said Kean. “Today we will get to see the stadium and have a tactical session on the pitch. We are in pre-season, this is a time when we are preparing the team and the players. We will choose the players who are physically prepared for the game.”
“We have a strong team to start tomorrow, it is very exciting for us to have such a big game early in our season with the opportunity to progress to the next stage of such a high calibre competition. We do not expect to rotate heavily given the nature of the game, but we do have other players if we need to use them,” said Kean.
For FC Seoul, a draw would be enough to seal a knock-out stage place for the first time since 2016, but for head coach Lee Won-jun, it is all about collecting the three points at Education City Stadium today. “Tomorrow’s game is our last in the group stage and we have to win it as it is very important,” said Lee. “It is true that we are better positioned than Melbourne Victory ahead of tomorrow’s match, but we are only thinking about winning the game, not drawing.”
“We are preparing on that basis. The players’ condition is very good, and we want to win this game. Our objective is to go beyond the Round of 16, we came to Qatar with the ambition of bringing success to this club. “
Genesio to place trust in Beijing’s youth against Chiangrai
The second Group E fixture today sees guaranteed group winners Beijing FC face eliminated Chiangrai United at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium. Head coach Bruno Genesio is prepared to give his Beijing FC stars a day off, but still expects a quality performance in the dead rubber against eliminated Chiangrai.
The Chinese side have the best record in the competition’s East Zone, winning all five of their matches in a manner which suggests they may well be among the title contenders in two weeks’ time.
With nothing on the line for either side in today’s clash, Genesio believes he has a responsibility to allow his senior players to recover ahead of the knockout stage but backs those who come into the side to perform at a similar level.
“It’s very important that we make some changes in a match like this, so tomorrow some players who have played a lot will get a rest,” said the Frenchman. “It is important for me to let them rest and to prevent injuries. I think it’s also a reward for the players who haven’t played a lot, but who have trained very hard from the beginning. I have confidence even in the players who have played less and I think they will show their best performance in the game tomorrow.”
On the other side of Beijing’s bid for group stage perfection is Thailand’s Chiangrai United, who will enter the match knowing their maiden appearance in Asia’s top competition will finish with the final whistle, no matter the result.
The campaign has seen a number of firsts for the 2019 Thai League champions, most notably their first ever AFC Champions League win against FC Seoul on Matchday Four, but interim coach Alongkorn Thongaum says falling in the group stage means their participation cannot be considered a success.
With Thailand’s sole club representative soon to depart the competition, the Southeast Asian nation’s focus will soon turn to the fortunes of national team star Theerathon Bunmathan.
The 30-year-old has been in superb form for Yokoama F. Marinos, and Alongkorn declared that, now that Chaingrai can’t go any further, he would be delighted to see the War Elephants full-back become an Asian champion.
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