It might have been all over for Melbourne Victory within the first 10 minutes when they eventually crashed 4-0 to Guangzhou Evergrande away earlier this month, but Fabio Cannavaro has forgotten all about it – and has entrusted his side to not underestimate the reverse fixture in the AFC Champions League Group F game.

“The last match is already forgotten, tomorrow is another match,” Guangzhou Evergrande’s head coach Fabio Cannavaro said, at the AFC Champions League pre-match press conference.

Image Credit : Ngau Kai Yan

“Every match has its own story, so we have to concentrate.

“I told my players it’s going to be a tough match, it’s an away match, but we have no time to think about tiredness, we have to be strong, be our best and not underestimate our opponents,” Cannavaro said.

Melbourne Victory were at the mercy of the Chinese Super League (CSL) side in the third round of the Group F encounter, slumping to a 4-0 defeat in China on 10th April.

The 2006 World Cup winner was quick to point out the dangers that Victory posed, blurting out “Honda” as a one word answer that emitted laughter from the (mostly Chinese) pack of journalists present.

“We also have to be very careful of Troisi and their number nine (Kosta Barbarouses). They are very good players, we saw the stats in the A-League this year, he (Barbarouses) scored around 15 goals altogether,” the former Real Madrid and Juventus defender said.

“For us it is still very dangerous and it’s important to focus our attention on the defensive situation.

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“(Tyias) Browning and (Ji-Soo) Park, they have much more chances in the AFC Champions League but I give the same motivation to them and all other defensive players,” he said.

Guangzhou remain at the top of Group F on goal difference, despite Daegu FC and Sanfrecce Hiroshima also sharing the same amount of points – 6. Guangzhou sit second in the CSL, having only clocked one loss in six matches.

“To play any game overseas in the AFC Champions League is very tiring, for any team in the world,” Cannavaro said.

“If you want to compete in the AFC Champions League, you have to win games away, one is in Melbourne (tomorrow), the other challenge is in Hiroshima.

“We have to accumulate more points to meet our goal of first reaching the group stage,” he said.

James Troisi misses out but youngsters will get a shout

A low grade hamstring tear will leave James Troisi out for at least two weeks, but recovery could take longer, Melbourne Victory head coach Kevin Muscat warned.

With Cannavaro pointing out Troisi’s pivotal role in Victory’s attack, Victory will not only miss him against Guangzhou, but possibly also for the Elimination Final in the A-League finals series.

“It’s never ideal at this point of the year, James has made good improvements already, but we’ll keep testing him, Muscat said.

Image Credit : Ngau Kai Yan

 

“He’s feeling a bit flat and at this time of the year it isn’t ideal.

“He’s working had, but we’ll have to wait and see,” he said.

Although mathematically possible, Melbourne Victory’s chances of progressing through group F remains so slim to the fact that Muscat has hinted that “there will be a few changes” to the team, to provide opportunities “for certain players”.

Although fans can expect fresh fringe players to take to the pitch tomorrow, Muscat has confirmed that Victory’s number one will return to service between the sticks. Lawrence Thomas has been radically shifted around the goalkeeping pecking order at the club, from a culmination of injury woes and performance issues.

“Lawrence will play,” Muscat said.

“Once the game is done, we’ll access everything from there and then pick the team based on merits from that game.

“My focus at the moment is tomorrow’s game, without doing a disservice for the competition and the players that are going to play,” Muscat said.

Carl Valeri insists that there’s much more to play for in this fixture, and urged players to seize this opportunity to put on a good performance.

“You have to approach the game in the most professional manner, which is performing well tomorrow night. You want to take some form into the finals, the best form of training is to prepare yourself by playing,” Valeri said.

“Although these games don’t mean much, it’s going to mean a lot for our campaign in the build up to the finals, we’ve got to play to our maximum.

Image Credit : Ngau Kai Yan

“Whoever plays – give it everything you’ve got, it’s a chance for players who haven’t been playing a whole lot to show themselves what they’re capable of,” the midfielder who announced his retirement early this month said.

While there is every chance Victory could be systematically dismantled by the Brazilian duo of Paulinho and Anderson Talisca, Victory can ride high on the fact that they have never lost a home AFC Champions League fixture against a Chinese opposition.

Melbourne Victory host Guangzhou Evergrande in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium at 7.30PM.

Feature image and gallery credits: Ngau Kai Yan

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Journalism undergrad at Monash University, Kai is a multimedia journalist covering Melbourne Victory. Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund. Once "stole" Shinji Kagawa's plane ticket.