|Coach Phan Thanh Hung of Ha Noi T&T seen during a pre-match conference. His team are to play Pohang Steelers in the AFC Champions League on February 9. — Photo baomoi.com
HA NOI (VNS) — Coach Phan Thanh Hung of Ha Noi T&T said his team would give their best performance during the Asian Football Confederation's Champions League play-off against Pohang Steelers on February 9.
The coach gave this assurance even though several of his players were absent. National team members Nguyen Van Quyet and Pham Thanh Luong rested at home, while the 16-strong squad left for South Korea last week.
"We saw Pohang in their pre-season in Thailand. Their coach was a famous player and they have many strong points. We respect them as a team, but we will play with confidence," Hung said at a press conference held before the match.
Ha Noi T&T are playing in their third AFC Champions League qualifying campaign, having lost to Muangthong and FC Seoul in their attempt to reach the 2014-15 group stages.
"Last years' experience will be a great help for us, I think. Seoul and Pohang are both strong teams. We will do our best for a good result," Hung said.
Their rivals are three-time Asian champions and Coach Choi Jin-cheul aims for a quick start against their visitors.
"We know that in a play-off, the important thing is to get through to the tournament proper. To do that, we will be looking to get the opening goal as soon as possible," Choi was quoted as saying on the-afc.com.
"We are still preparing for the season, but we have a major game coming up and we want to show fans how much we have prepared."
Defender Captain Kim Gwanghwamun-seok was confident of a win by his team.
He said the important thing was to win, and not who the rivals were. Ha Noi T&T could mount a counter attack, but his team had experience in dealing with such tactics, he said.
The winners of the match will be drawn in the main round's Group H, which already has Guangzhou Evergrande of China, Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan and Sydney FC of Australia.
Chonburi and Muangthong United, both of Thailand, are also competing in the play-off round.
In case Chonburi beat hosts FC Tokyo of Japan, they will head to Group E to face Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of South Korea, China's Jiengsu FC and Becamex Binh Duong of Viet Nam.
Meanwhile, Muangthong United travel to China to play Shanghai SIPG. The winners will drop to Group G with Melbourne Victory of Australia, Gamba Osaka of Japan and Suwon Samsung Bluewings FC of South Korea. — VNS