Richard Garcia has called upon his squad to rise to the challenge of taking on big-spending Shanghai Shenhua in Wednesday’s AFC Champions League Group F game at Education City Stadium (kick-off at 6pm WST, game live on Fox Sports Channel 507).
The Glory squad are due to train for a second time since arriving in Doha later today and get their first look at the state-of-the-art venue which will host each of their remaining group games.
And while their preparation time has been limited, Garcia is adamant that his players are raring to go.
“Considering the situation, I think the players are as prepared as they can be,” he said.
“We’ve had a short run-in to the tournament, we had one session yesterday and will have another today, so we are probably a little bit behind the eight-ball, but that ‘s part of the mental challenge and something that I want the players to rise to.
“To be able to play a tournament and go through that pre-season feeling early on will hold them in good stead come the A-League season.”
Garcia is similarly confident that his charges will not show too much respect to what is an undeniably strong Shanghai Shenhua side.
“Shanghai have got depth in all areas and the fact that a few of their players haven’t made the trip isn’t going to make it easier for us,” he said.
“That squad depth is probably where they have the upper hand in terms of tournament football.
“They are a good team and will provide a good challenge which we’re all looking forward to.
“When the players get their playing kit on and get out there, the pre-season hat comes off and the competition hat is put on.”
Glory’s Head Coach went on to confirm that he is excited to see how some of the squad’s younger members respond to what will be their first taste of senior football.
“They’ve all impressed over the year and now this is a different kettle of fish,” he said.
“This is something that they have never experienced and it’s going to be really interesting for me, the rest of the coaching team and the players themselves to see how they perform under tournament pressure at the highest level in Asia.
“We’re really going to be pushing them to their top limit and I’m looking forward to seeing how they go.”
As far as the rest of the Glory squad is concerned, Osama Malik and Neil Kilkenny are unlikely to feature on Wednesday evening as they recover from niggling injuries, but the experienced duo are expected to return to action later in the tournament.
In terms of Shanghai Shenhua’s team news, meanwhile, record-signing Stephan El Shaarawy is a notable absentee, but experienced Korean international striker Kim shin-Wook has made the trip to Doha after recovering from a broken leg and he is joined by long-serving Colombian skipper Giovanni Moreno.
Moreno could well be joined in midfield by Stephane Mbia, the former Sevilla and Marseilles man with 68 senior Cameroon caps to his name having completed a move from Wuhan Zall earlier in the year.
Others players worth keeping an eye on include highly-rated right winger Ruofan Liu who is a current China Under-23 international and attacking midfielder Xinli Peng who led the way for Shenhua in terms of assists in the league last season.