Kitchee aim to build on impressive AFC Cup start against India's Pune
High-flying Kitchee are looking to make it two wins out of two in the AFC Cup when they take on visitors Pune of India at Mong Kok Stadium on Wednesday.
Kitchee kicked off the regional cup campaign with a bang when they thrashed Tampines Rovers 5-0 in Singapore two weeks ago and now have two home games in a row.
"If we win [both], we'll be in the driver's seat with nine points," said head coach Chu Chi-kwong. "But we are also concerned the players are getting a little bit tired, both mentally and physically, after going through two-thirds of the season. We hope they can hang in there and get through this tough period."
Kitchee need to tackle three tough games in eight days, the two AFC Cup group H ties sandwiching a league game against Citizen.
There was good news for Kitchee as Spanish striker Juan Belencoso, who has picked up 11 goals so far this season, was passed fit after straining his back in the weekend's win over BC Rangers.
Pune were held by Nay Pyi Taw of Myanmar to a 2-2 draw at home in their opening game and expect a tough contest at Mong Kok Stadium.
"It's a group of good teams and Kitchee are one of the favourites," said coach Mike Snoei. "We have a young team and many of them are promoted from the academy. It will be a fantastic game for our youngsters."
The visitors will rely heavily on the speed of striker Rahamat Mustapha, who has played in the Netherlands, Spain and was with Bolton when they were in the Premier League.
"We know he is a very fast player but soccer is a team game," said Chu. "We will keep a close eye on him and are quite confident of a home win."
Meanwhile, South China cannot afford to lose more points against Kelantan in Malaysia in group G. The Caroliners were beaten 3-1 by Vissai Ninh Binh of Vietnam in their opening game.