Smeltz excited about Jinan return

As Sydney FC forward Shane Smeltz prepares to return to Jinan, he still refuses to talk about his past experience in the region.

Smeltz travelled to Jinan in 2010, albeit it was to join Shandong rather than play against them. The 34-year-old was part of Gold Coast United at the time and had agreed to join the Chinese outfit on a two-year, $1 million deal.

It was reported that Smeltz signed his contract in Beijing on Monday and only reached Jinan on Thursday as he linked up with his team-mates in Qingdao.

Interestingly, on Friday, he was on a flight back to Australia and part of Gold Coast United again as it is understood higher powers acted before the deal was made official.

This time, though, Smeltz will be in action against the Chinese Super League club in an AFC round of 16 clash on Wednesday and is eager to see his side come out on top. However, he knows that it will be much easier said than done.

“Nothing surprises me in football anymore. Though I will say I had a little chuckle when the draw came out,” Smeltz told Fairfax Media on Sunday. “There’s not much I’d like to say about what happened – but there’s a lot more to that story than most people know.

“Most people think I came here, didn’t like the city or the club or something, but it’s not true. It’s such a long time ago and I’ve moved on. It’s very much in the past.

“I’m actually really excited about coming here and playing in this game. When you’ve been around as long as I have, I guess you have to be prepared for anything, even if it was a bit unexpected to return.

“It’s a massive game for us and I’m looking forward to seeing what the atmosphere will be like and how we’ll handle what is obviously going to be a very big test.”

The New Zealand international also conceded that his side have to be wary of the foreigners in Shandong’s squad, which include Gil, Diego Tardelli, Juciel and Walter Montillo.

“We’ve been preparing for them quite a bit at training this week. We’ve got a good idea of how they play, which is quite similar to a lot of Chinese teams – that really open style,” Smeltz said. “But it’s clear they’ve got some outstanding foreigners who we’ll have to be careful of. They’re obviously top players who can make a difference.”