Eastern face mammoth task against Super League giants

Eastern SC in blue

Eastern SC will require a Herculean effort when they host Guangzhou Evergrande in an AFC Champions League Group G clash at Mongkok Stadium on Tuesday.

No doubt the Hong Kong hosts will be desperate to avoid a repeat of the huge 7-0 thrashing they received the last time the two teams met back in February.

Counting in their favour this time around is that the match will be played on home soil in front of their own fans in Kowloon, but the challenge will still be a formidable one.

Eastern coach Chan Yuen-ting believes her charges can produce a much-improved performance this time around.

“We are confident of securing some points from the match,” she said at the pre-match press conference.

“We come back to our familiar pitch and the compact venue will also give our defensive play advantages.

“More importantly, we have gained a lot of experience at this level after the Guangzhou game and are now in a much better preparation for the Champions League, both mentally and physically.”

Forward Lee Hong-lim echoed his coach’s words, and was similarly banking on home advantage to make the difference.

“We have the support of the fans and are expecting a good performance from the players as seen from the two previous home games,” said the Hong Kong international.

“It won’t be easy for Guangzhou as we can tighten our defence with the limited space of the MongKok ground and wait for the chance to come.”

Counting in the home side’s favour is that Guangzhou have not been in great form in the continental competition.

Since that 7-0 victory, they have stumbled with three straight draws against Suwon Bluewings and Kawasaki Frontale (twice).

Their qualification hopes remain in the balance, although that does mean they will not be lacking any motivation for Tuesday’s match.

“We come here to win the match,” said Guangzhou coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. “I was worried over the pitch size before I came but it looks fine after checking the ground here. The pitch is small but it’s not a serious problem as what people have told me.

“Although we did win 7-0 in the first match, it is still three points to me and that’s also what we are looking for this time.”

Eastern are coming off a 3-1 win over Southern District on Friday that leaves them top of the Hong Kong Premier League, while Guangzhou ran out 2-1 victors against Liaoning on the same night to lie third in the Chinese Super League.