A-League champion Melbourne Victory has arrived in China ahead of friday's friendly match against Guangzhou Pharmaceutical. Victory has arrived with a strong squad , missing only Carlos Hernandez, Glen Moss, Michael Theoklitos and Surat Sukha.
Friday's encounter will be followed with a match in Tianjin, where it will defend the Lord Mayor's Cup in a second international friendly against CSL outfit Tianjin Teda on Sunday.
Coach Ernie Merrick is looking forward to the clash: "It's very good preparation, firstly for the Hyundai A-League season, and secondly for the AFC Champions League.
"We're facing the sorts of challenges we'll face in the ACL, where we'll be grouped against teams from China, Korea and Japan, so this is an ideal trip.
"It's all about travelling, preparation and two high quality games against two impressive teams," Merrick said.
"We want to do well in both games and we want to retain the Lord Mayor's Cup, but at the same time we want to give everyone the opportunity to have a run, especially the couple of youth players we've brought with us." Golden Star International Investment has sponsored and funded Melbourne Victory's all-expenses paid trip to China.
"We wouldn't normally fly overnight to an important game, but for this tour, given that it's only seven days, there's a lot of travel and we're going from one end of China to the other, we didn't have any other options," Merrick said.
"The extra duress and physical stress on the body caused by the flights will be a challenge, but it allows us to focus and work on the recovery protocols we've put in place for flying.
"We've brought a good medical team over with two physios, a doctor, sports scientist and strength and conditioning coach to put into practice the protocols that we have adopted over the last couple of years."
Guangzhou currently sits ninth on the CSL ladder and is undefeated at YueXiuShan Stadium this season, having drawn its most recent match at home against second-placed Shandong Luneng.