Revenge should be a strong motivating factor for South China when they host Malaysian club Johor Darul Tazim in the first leg of their AFC Cup quarter-final at Mong Kok Stadium on Tuesday night.
Last year, the Malaysian side bundled the Hong Kong heavyweights out of the tournament at the same stage and went on to win the regional title.
Under pressure South China coach Ricardo Rambo knows the Caroliners can’t afford a setback before heading for the return leg in Johor.
“It’s a massive task ahead,” said Rambo. “We need to be aggressive against such a quality side and at the same time we have to avoid conceding goals at home, or our return match will be very difficult.
“We have been preparing for this match for a long time and the players are ready for the challenge, but they must prove it on the pitch.”
South China team convener Wallace Cheung Kwong-yung has previously said Rambo has to come up with the goods in the AFC Cup competition.
New signing Nikola Komazec, who’s only goal helped the Caroliners to beat minnows BC Glory Sky in their first and only domestic league match so far this season, will need to be at his best up front, along with Australian forward Ryan Griffiths.
But the real test will be combating Johor’s two Argentine forwards – Jorge Diaz and Juan Lucero – who have collected 30 goals with Diaz topping the Malaysian scoring table with 17 goals.
New signings Leung Kwun-chung and younger brother Nok-hang, are the South China fullbacks tasked with stopping the Argentine pair, along with central defenders Chan Wai-ho and Bojan Malisic.
Johor got a timely boost leading into the match by claiming the Malaysia Super League title. The defending champions hammered Terengganu 3-0 last Friday and cannot be caught by the rest of the field with two rounds left in their domestic competition.