On the eve of the AFC Champions League preliminary round, Eastern and visiting Vietnamese club Thanh Hoa held their press conference and final training at Mong Kok Stadium.
Lee Kin-wo, the newly-appointed acting head coach of Eastern since last Friday, emphasized that he does not have a specific strategy to face Thanh Hoa, admitting that his information on the visitors is quite limited. Hence, he will treat it as a normal game. Nonetheless, Eastern are expected to start aggressively in an attempt to take the lead as early as possible. Moreover, Lee did not reveal any special feeling that he was just appointed right before the ACL game. He also spoke of his Japanese defender Yusuke Igawa, who, despite missing the last few months of actions due to serious injury, has picked up his form, particularly during the training camp in Bangkok in early January. Although Igawa might still be unfamiliar with his teammates, he does not have any problem performing on the pitch.
Eastern’s captain and goalkeeper,Yapp Hung-fai, was also at the press conference. He credited Thanh Hoa for being a fast team with individually skilled players. However, with Vietnam entering the final four of the AFC U23 Championship, several of the club’s core players would be absent, which could turn into an advantage for Eastern. Speaking about his team, he pointed out that the majority of the goals Eastern conceded in the first half occurred during turnovers, so he suggested his teammates to be quicker to return from offense to defense.
As far as Thanh Hoa were concerned, head coach Marian Mihail expressed the difficult circumstances to prepare of such high quality competitions, as his team has only begun the training four weeks ago. The fitness is therefore one of his main concerns. Mihail considers his team not as a big club, but one that wants to be successful, therefore, the players will try very hard tomorrow. When asked about Eastern, Mihail claimed that although his opponents might be going through some tough times, they are still playing some good attacking football.
The game will kick off on January 23rd at 8pm at Mong Kok Stadium, and the winner of the match will proceed to the next round. In case of a draw, the game will go into extra-time and penalty shoot-out. Tickets are available for purchase starting from 6:30pm at the stadium entrance.