Tomorrow SCG Muangthong United will face Chinese Super League runner-ups SIPG F.C. in the next round of the AFC Champions League preliminary matches.
The teams are playing for a place in Group G of the Champions League, along with Melbourne Victory, Suwon Samsung and Gamba Osaka.
To reach this stage Muangthong United defeated Johor Darul Ta'zim, champions of the Malaysian League.
SIPG F.C. are a high profile club with many big names and this will be a challenging match, especially as their home ground is the 56,000 seat Shanghai Stadium. The club formed in 2005 and played first in the third level of Chinese professional football. The team quickly worked their way up to the top division, and in 2015 finished 2nd place, runners up to Guangzhou Evergrande. The club is well financed by Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG), who took over ownership of the club in 2015. One of the first moves was to sign former England manager and Swedish national Sven-Göran Eriksson as Head Coach. They recently broke the Chinese Super League transfer record by signing former Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan away from Al Anin for 20 million pounds (1,023,142,292 baht).
SIPG F.C. also have signed South Korean national Kim Ju-young, and this season lured Elkeson de Oliveira Cardoso away from Guangzhou Evergrande for a fee of 6 million Euros.
Chinese Super League teams have been on a spending spree recently, as well as Ilkeston and Gyan, this has included:
- Paris Saint-Germain’s Ezequiel Lavezzi joining Shanghai Shenua (10 million Euros, or 395 million Baht) - Shakhtar Donetsk’s Teixeira to Jiangsu (50 million Euro) - Atletico Madrid’s Jackson to Guangzhou (42 million Euro) - Chelsea’s Ramirez to Jiangsu (28 million Euro) - Roma and former Arsenal forward Gervinho to Hebei Fortune (18 million Euro)
With such an expensive line-up at SIPG, SCG Muanghtong United will be facing one of their biggest challenges to date, though the Team of Your Dreams will give their best and represent Thailand proudly.