Singapore side Balestier Khalsa will be up against Hong Kong outfit Kitchee SC in their Group F clash of the AFC Cup on Tuesday at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.
In their opening match on February 23, Balestier drew 2-2 with New Radiant Sports Club in the Maldives and will be hoping to get a win at home against Kitchee after the Hong Kong side won their opener 1-0 against Kaya FC in the Philippines.
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In the group standings, Kitchee are top on three points ahead of Balestier on one with New Radiant followed by Kaya at the bottom with zero points.
For home side Balestier, they will have a tough task on their hands against a Hong Kong outfit that have won three of their last four league fixtures with one draw.
The Singapore side have not had it so good drawing two and losing one of their last three league fixtures including a 3-1 loss against Ceres La Salle in a friendly.
Hong Kong champions Kitchee are a side with an attacking style of play and have a quality side with five Hong Kong national team players in their squad.
Something which will benefit the Singapore side is that Kitchee coach Abraham Garcia has left the side and has been replaced by director of football Alex Chu on an interim basis.
Balestier do have players that will be missing due to injuries – Croatian forward Pericic, defender Ho Wai Loon while Serbian defender Lotinac faces a late fitness test.
For Kitchee, Spanish defender Fernando Recio and countryman Jordi Tarres out of action due to injuries as confirmed by caretaker coach Chu.
“Although our previous coach Abraham Garcia just left, I am confident with our team playing with the style and system we have been using for years,” said Chu.
“Our two foreigners are out injured, but we have the same key players who have played in Singapore previously.
“What will determine the outcome is our pacing and speed during the game. If our players can keep up their tempo and play our style, we have a chance.”
German coach Marko Kraljevic, who has been at the helm at Balestier since 2014, has done well with his side on a tight budget and he will be hoping to get a home win against his more fancied opponents.
“The match against Kitchee is our chance to grab three points. We did alright against New Radiant in our last game. If we win this match at home, we will be in a strong position to finish in the top two,” said Kraljevic.
“Playing at Jalan Besar Stadium gives us an edge because we are going to play an attacking game.
“Even though they have been to Singapore and Jalan Besar several times, the artificial turf will still require players to be fully fit to play on the surface.”
In previous meeting’s Kitchee beat Balestier 3-0 in their Group F clash in the AFC Cup in 2015 and they won 2-1 in the return leg.
Kitchee have done well against Singaporean clubs in the AFC Cup. In 2013, they got past Warriors FC 4-2 away and 5-0 at home and in 2014, they beat Tampines Rovers 5-0 away and 4-0 at home.
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