Sydney FC get the mail on ACL rivals
Sydney FC coach Vitezslav Lavicka is armed with useful intelligence on Chinese opponent Shanghai Shenhua and reckons a five-week break from competition won't be a handicap in Wednesday's Asian Champions League clash.
Sydney will be close to full strength, with suspended skipper Terry McFlynn, the only key player unavailable.
However, the Irish midfielder will also miss next week's home game against Kashima Antlers after the AFC disciplinary committee settled on a two-match ban for a violent conduct offence in Sydney's ACL opener against Suwon Bluewings.
Wednesday's Sydney Football Stadium encounter is an important game for both teams as each has only a single point, though Sydney has played just one game to Shanghai's two.
It will be Sydney's first proper hitout since their March 2 clash with Suwon.
Their March 16 fixture with Kashima was postponed following the Japanese earthquake.
That catastrophe also led to former Sydney, Shanghai and Socceroos defender Mike Milligan returning to Australia from Japanese club JEF United Chiba.
"He spent one week training with us, so it was pretty good, we picked up pretty interesting information about the opposition (Shanghai)," Lavicka told reporters on Tuesday.
Striker Mark Bridge is the man expected to replace McFlynn.
Midfielder Stuart Musialik will lead the side in McFlynn's absence, but he was non-committal about whether that was a pointer to him re-signing with Sydney following their ACL campaign.
"It's a tough one, I'm not really looking at it that way, I just think that it's an honour and privilege to take Terry's spot when he is out and captain the side in an ACL game," Musialik said.
"I'm just happy to be given that opportunity and whatever happens after the Champions League, happens."
Shanghai would appear to have an edge in match conditioning having played one more ACL game than Sydney. Also, they started their own domestic competition last week.
Neither Lavicka nor Musialik was concerned about Sydney's lack of recent competition games though.
"I have to say we spent the time between the games effectively, I have to say that all players worked very hard getting their fitness better," Lavicka said.
"We also played some practice games so we are ready now and focused for the game tomorrow night."
Shanghai will be without the suspended Jiang Jiajun as well as two injured players - captain and midfielder Yu Tao and goalkeeper Wang Dalei.
"We expect they will be a tough opponent for us because they have several very dangerous players especially up front," Lavicka said.