Some of Brazil’s best international stars will be coming to Kogarah, as Sydney FC play host to Chinese heavyweights Shanghai SIPG in the AFC Champions League.

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With Hulk as their captain and former Chelsea player Oscar still in the prime of his career, the visitors will no doubt pose a major threat up front and are one of the favourites to win the competition. 29-year-old striker Elkeson adds to their firepower and has a strong goalscoring record in the Chinese Super League.

Another player to watch out for is 31-year-old Odil Ahmedov, who holds 92 caps for the Uzbekistan national team and has scored 18 times. Ahmedov has lots of experience in Europe, playing in the Europa League with his former club Krasnodar.

Shanghai SIPG’s homegrown players have plenty of pedigree as well, with many being members of the Chinese national team.

Left-back Yu Hai has 71 international caps and has scored 11 goals for his country, while 28-year-old goalkeeper Yan Junling, who has spent his entire senior career at the club, has made 28 appearances for his country.

Manager Vitor Pereira has recently overseen European clubs such as Porto, Fenerbache, 1860 Munich and Olympiacos. He is one of the best managers in the Chinese Super League, which features names such as Fabio Cannavaro, Jordi Cruyff and Dragan Stojkovic.

Shanghai SIPG were crowned as Chinese Super League champions last season, however currently sit in third position after four matches. So far, they have scored 11 goals, which leading the entire league. Despite this, they have conceded six, which highlights they can be vulnerable in defence. It would give Sydney FC hope that they can get a result and would keep their strikers alert.

While Shanghai SIPG started their season with three consecutive victories, their one loss occurred in their most recent match against Chongqing Dangdai Lifan. They fell 3-2 at home, with a 93rd minute own-goal by goalkeeper Yan Junling proving to be the difference. Scoring the first goal in that match was Adrian Mierzejewski, who is well-known to Sydney FC fans and now plays for Chongqing.

In the Champions League this season, Shanghai SIPG have one win and one loss to their name, with the loss occurring in their last match against Ulsan Hyundai. Despite Shanghai having the bulk of the possession, Junior Negrao’s strike proved to be the difference.

Sydney FC are undefeated against Chinese opposition at home in the AFC Champions League, however have won just once – this came in 2016 when they defeated Guangzhou Evergrande 2-1 in the group stage. The remaining four matches have been draws – the most recent being a 0-0 tie with Shanghai Shenhua in April 2018.

On paper, the result leans towards a Shanghai SIPG victory. Despite this, it will be an intriguing match and a chance for the people of Sydney to witness some world class players in action.

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Tim Sperliotis
tsperliotis@gmail.com