Hong Kong champions South China are optimistic they have a game plan to frustrate heavyweights Manchester City when the two sides meet tonight.
"If we can work as a unit in defence and hold them well, not allowing too many scoring opportunities, we will have a chance," said coach Cheung Po-chun. "If there is a draw after 90 minutes, the match will go straight into a penalty tie-breaker and the result can go either way."
The coach appealed for support from the crowd, with only a few thousand tickets left for sale at the 40,000 seat venue. "The fans can play an important role, making it difficult for visitors with their cheering. City are still in pre-season and are not 100 per cent fit. With the help of the hot and humid weather, we can certainly give them a hard time."
South China were beaten 3-1 by Liverpool at the 2007 tournament, and suffered another 4-1 defeat at the hands of Fulham in the third-place play-off.
Central defender Chan Wai-ho, who featured in both those matches, said the Premier League sides were not as physical as he had thought. "They did not use too much of their physical power because their players are so skilful," said the South China captain. "Over the years, we have gained experience against Premier League teams, but of course it is still very difficult."
The Hong Kong international may not start due to a right knee problem and may be replaced by Sean Tse Ka-keung, formerly with the City Academy when he was in England, while Zhang Chunhui will be preferred between the posts to Yapp Hung-fai, as coach Cheung said it would not be fair to play Yapp the choice. Yapp only returned to the team this week after a failed attempt to join China Super League side Guizhou.