Head Coach Richard Garcia is backing his Glory charges to take the positives they gained from last week’s clash with Shanghai Shenhua into Tuesday evening’s meeting with Group F leaders, Ulsan Hyundai (kick-off at 9pm WST).
A youthful Glory side were edged out 2-1 at Education City as the AFC Champions League resumed in Doha, while Ulsan took their tally of points to four when they downed Shanghai 3-1 four days later.
But Garcia feels that his players’ confidence has been boosted by the way they acquitted themselves in what was the club’s first competitive outing since August.
“The boys have carried a lot of confidence from that game,” he said, “as well as the belief that they are capable at this level.
“It’s such a big thing, especially for the younger guys, that they have that belief in themselves and each other.
“At the moment, everyone is travelling really well.
“The group have really gelled.
“It is tough being away from family and home for such an extended period and we’re not even at the midway point yet, but the guys have done well.
“Their spirits are high and the senior guys have really taken it on board to make sure that the younger guys feel welcome and good about their position in the squad.
“That sort of stuff is invaluable.
“It’s what you want from your leaders and our leaders are doing a great job.”
Garcia, however, is certainly not underestimating the threat posed by an Ulsan side that finished second in the K-League last season.
“Ulsan are a great team,” he said.
“They’ve come off a tough season and they’re fully fit and raring to go.
“They’re very focused on trying to win this tournament, so they will be tough, but I think we need to go out with the same mindset we had against Shanghai.
“We need to refine a few things we probably didn’t get right against Shanghai and I think that’ll hold us in good stead.
“We didn’t just come here to play games, we came to get results and we’re trying to take something out of each game.
“It’s about us trying to get over that hurdle and get some points to give us a chance of making the next stage.”
In terms of early team news, Garcia hinted that local product Daniel Stynes is likely to see some action on Tuesday evening as one of a number of changes to the squad.
“Now the games are coming thick and fast,” he said, “we’ve got to balance things out and the selection is going to be crucial.
“It’s going to be hard for some guys who are going to have to back up.
“It’s going to be a test for us as a coaching team to figure out who’s looking fresh and how we get the best out of the guys without pushing them to the limit where they will be in danger of injury.”
As for Ulsan, they handed a rare start to former Glory defender Jason Davidson in their win over Shanghai Shenhua and he was joined in the side by the 2020 K-League Golden Boot winner, Junior Negrao.
It was attacking midfielder Yoon bit-Garam who grabbed the headlines rather than the prolific Brazilian, however, as he scored two of the goals, with defender Kim Kee-hee adding the third.
Victory for Kim Do-hoon’s men on Tuesday evening would move them to within touching distance of the knockout stages as they look to secure a second AFC Champions League title.