The Brazilians Anderson Barbosa and Roberto Lopes have been ruled out of Sharjah's side to take on the Iranian champions Piroozi in tonight's Group C Asian Champions League opener at the Azadi Stadium. They suffered leg injuries in the Pro League match against Ajman, who they edged out 2-1, and will miss the game. "They are not very serious injuries but we don't want to take any risk," said the coach Toni Oliveira.
"Anderson and Lopez have bigger roles to play in both the Pro League and the continental championship." Oliveira, who took charge last month after the Tunisian Yousef al Zawawi resigned to returned to Al Shaab, said they were heading for a tough game in a group that also includes Al Shabab from Saudi Arabia and Qatar's Al Gharafa. Sharjah reached the group stage thanks to a 3-0 qualifying play-off win over the Indian champions Dempo.
"No game is going to be easy at this level," he said. "And we are going into this competition in a positive frame of mind to win and not just to fill the numbers. "We will try to go as far as possible and obviously the experience will count. "Anderson and Lopes out of the line up is of course a big blow but we must be prepared to play with the best available. "We have a decent squad and we are travelling with a win in mind, and even if we can return with a point, it will be a good start."
Sharjah are in the middle of the Pro League standings with only nine points separating the seven teams behind the title contenders Al Ahli, Al Jazira and Al Ain. And with their domestic trophy aspirations virtually ended, Oliveira's men are hoping a continental crown is not out of their grasp, whatever the odds on them. firstname.lastname@example.org