FC Tokyo will be looking to make the most of their home advantage when they take on Shanghai SIPG in the first leg of their AFC Champions League Round of 16 clash on Tuesday.
Bolstering the home side’s chances is the news that Shanghai, who topped Group G and are making their debut at this stage of the competition, will possibly be without two of their most important players.
Coach Sven Goran Eriksson has confirmed that striker Asamoah Gyan will definitely play no part in the match.
The Ghanaian international, who was the top scorer in this competition two years ago, featured in only three of his side’s six group stage games due to injury, and that trend is set to continue.
Captain Sun Xiang is also in doubt, but will continue to be assessed.
“Injury-wise, all the players are with the unfortunate exception of Asamoah,” said Eriksson.
“Our captain Sun Xiang is here with us but I don’t know if he will play tomorrow as he only played the first half on Saturday. We’ll have to see after training today and maybe tomorrow. I don’t think it was too serious an injury, which is good.”
Eriksson is wary of the threat a well-drilled FC Tokyo side poses, and knows that the level of competition is set to step up with the arrival of the knock-out stages.
“FC Tokyo are very organised, and they are a very hard working team,” he said.
“If you get to the knockout stages, you don’t expect to face a bad team. So, it’s going to be difficult but it will be difficult for them as well.”
FC Tokyo, meanwhile, know all about Chinese competition, having been defeated by Guangzhou Evergrande in this round of competition back in 2012, and having to contend with Jiangsu FC in this year’s group stages.
“Jiangsu is a wonderful side but Shanghai has additional strength in the quality of their Chinese players,” said coach Hiroshi Jofuku. “They are fast and attack-minded while also well organised in defence, and so we are expecting a tough match tomorrow.
“However, this is our home game and we’d like to make sure to get the win here before heading to our second leg away in Shanghai. We will look to create scoring chances while shutting down their attack and we are focused on getting the win tomorrow with the help of our supporters.”
FC Tokyo are languishing in 12th place in the J.League, and are eager to make up for it with a strong showing in the AFC Champions League.
“We are struggling in the J. League, but we want to make a new club history in the ACL, starting with this first leg, and give ourselves a boost of confidence for our campaign in the J. League as well.”
FC Tokyo boast a virtually full strength squad, although they will be without suspended defender Yuichi Murayama.