|That's the target: Becamex Binh Duong players seen during a V-League 1 match. The national champions hope to put up a fight against China's Shandong Luneng Taishan FC in the first Group E match of the AFC Champions League today at the Go Dau Stadium. — VNS Photo Tuan Tu
HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam's defending champions Becamex Binh Duong will kick off the Asian Football Confederation Champions League with a match against Chinese rival Shandong Luneng Taishan FC in Group E today.
The match will be played on Binh Duong's home turf. The hosts returned to practise on Saturday after a short Lunar New Year break and are ready for a tough match against their rivals. They want to win during the first match itself as it is believed to bring them luck the whole year round.
Cao Van Chong, the general director of the Binh Duong Sport Football Joinstock Company, gifted lucky money to all players and wished them well for the first match.
"After watching them during training, as well as reviewing their statistics, I discovered that Shangdong Luneng are powerful. Their players have a good physique, are in top form, and possess great technique. All of them are better than our players" said coach Nguyen Thanh Son of Binh Duong during a pre-match meeting yesterday.
"However, we are not afraid of them. We will use counter-attack tactics and play with a comfortable spirit and give it our best."
Coach Alexi Stival of Shangdong Luneng said it will be a difficult match for both sides because they know nothing about each other and many unpredictable things could happen during the game.
He pointed out that Binh Duong are a good team that includes several Vietnamese national team players, as well as foreigners from Senegal and Uganda.
However, Shangdong Luneng want to go home with all three points, because they are still the strongest rivals in the group, he added.
Brazilian coach who is called Cuca refused to reveal the number of national team members and players from China, Brazil and Argentina in his club.
Coach Son of the Vietnamese side said that as per his knowledge, Shangdong Luneng have at least seven national team players from China. They are defenders Dai Lin, Zheng Zheng, Wang Qiang, midfielders Zhang Wenzhao, Wang Yongpo, Liu Binbin and Jin Jingdao and captain striker Han Peng. All of them have arrived in Binh Duong for this match.
There are also two foreigners in the team: Diego Tardelli from Brazil and Argentinean Walter Montillo, who the Vietnamese defenders should keep an eye on all the time, Son added.
During this match, Binh Duong will not have halfback Truong Dinh Luat and defender Nguyen Xuan Thanh playing for them because of injuries. But Son said the remaining members could surprise with their performance.
"It is not true that the stronger team always beats the weaker one. It is the beautiful unpredictability of football that lures people to the stadiums. During a nice and lucky day, the weaker team can definitely trounce the stronger team," said technical director Le Thuy Hai, from the Binh Duong side.
"But first of all, we have to prepare well and play with all of our capacity and never give up."
Binh Duong are returning to continental competition after seven years. This is their second League participation.
Shangdong Luneng are the China's Super Cup holders, as well as National Cup winners. This is the seventh time they are taking part in the AFC Champions League. They had entered the quarter final round once in 2005.
Another eagerly awaited match in the group is between Jeonbuk Huyndai Motors of South Korea and Kashiwa Reysol from Japan. — VNS