Moment of truth for Lo as Caroliners face acid test against Home United

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 June, 2009, 12:00am

South China face their biggest test in convenor Steven Lo Kit-sing's three-year reign when they take on Home United of Singapore in the AFC Cup round of 16 at Hong Kong Stadium tonight.

Having led the Caroliners to six domestic titles over the past three seasons, Lo has made it crystal clear that clinching the Asian title is a major motivating factor in keeping him involved in Hong Kong football.

'The Asian title is our top target and I will definitely bring in more quality overseas players if we make it to the quarter-finals,' said Lo.

The quarter-finals, which will be conducted on a home-and-away basis, will be played early next season and qualified teams are allowed to change the players they used in the group stage and round of 16.

Although Lo is tight-lipped on his plans for next season, it is believed he has already approached players in the Brazil First Division and other South American countries to strengthen the squad next season.

South China team manager Kim Pan-gon was confident they could advance to the last eight, saying they had prepared well. 'The players are all motivated,' said the South Korean after yesterday's practice.

'They certainly have the quality to make it.'

Kim also hoped the players could repeat their impressive form in the group stage, which made South China the best team among the eight groups. The Caroliners were unbeaten in their six matches, winning five and drawing one, earning home-ground advantage against Home United, who managed second place in their group.

South China have no injury problems, with forward Tales Schutz and centre-half Sidrailson having recovered from minor injuries. But forward Chan Siu-ki has been forced to miss the crucial cup tie after accumulating two yellow cards. His position will be taken by Kwok Kin-pong.

Home United head coach Sivaji Narayanan Nair said both teams knew each other well after playing in the same group for the past two seasons. The Singaporeans achieved a better head-to-head record last year with a home win and a draw in Hong Kong. 'But South China are very aggressive and it will be tough for us,' he said.