Despite being clear underdogs, Brisbane Roar boss John Aloisi expects his side’s superior fitness will be a massive advantage when they face Shanghai Shenhua in their do-or-die ACL group qualifier in a chilly China tonight (Wed).
Roar heads into the clash as massive underdogs against the huge spenders from the CSL, which boast the likes of Argentine superstar Carlos Tevez, ex-EPL striker Obafemi Martins and danger man in the middle of the park, Colombian Gio Moreno.
And weather conditions will also be foreign to the visitors, coming from the heat of an Australian summer and based in the Sunshine State.
The cold and rain in Shanghai adding to the challenge for Roar, with today's maximum temperatures just six degrees (going down to minus one overnight).
But the Caltex Socceroo great expects the weather and Roar’s excellent physical condition will work in their favour tonight.
“We are very happy that it’s going to be cooler. We’re a team that likes to play at a very high tempo, we’re a very fit team that can run a lot and only two weeks ago we played in Wellington which is very similar to this,” Aloisi told reporters at the official pre-match press conference.
The match will be Roar’s fourth game in 11 days after back-to-back Hyundai A-League games over the last two weekends, plus another ACL qualifier against Global FC last week.
“We have no issues with the change of temperature. We actually think the temperature will help us because we’ll be able to run for 90 minutes at a very high tempo.
“With us being fit and maybe Shanghai Shenhua maybe not so fit because they are just starting their season, maybe it could be an advantage for us.”
Besides the star quality in the Shanghai side, the CSL club are a bit of an unknown quantity for Roar as they are still in the middle of their pre-season and are under a new coach in Uruguayan Gus Poyet.
While he admits it’s been hard to do much scouting on their opposition, Aloisi says his side will be ready for the massive challenge of qualifying for the group stage.
“I know a lot about Shanghai Shenhua from last season. I watched a lot of their games and analysed a lot of their games,” the Roar boss said.
“I got a little bit of feedback in their pre-season games but no footage. I know they are a very good team with very good attacking players.
"We know Moreno has been here for nearly seven seasons now, he’s probably the main figure of Shenhua and then Tevez and Martins going forward are very strong.
“We know it will be a difficult game bur we’re looking forward to the challenge and also we feel if we play our football we can cause problems for Shanghai Shenhua.”
Aloisi has yet to settle on his starting XI but Roar will have one less player on the bench after Dimitri Petratos left the travelling party to join up with Korean side Ulsan Hyundai on Monday.
Ironically, if Roar does beat Shanghai to qualify for the group stage, they will come up against Ulsan, who won their final qualifier against Kitchee on penalties on Tuesday night.