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Sydney FC set for tough challenge in China

Guangzhou Evergrande's big-time imports won't stop Sydney FC finishing top of their Asian Champions League group, but coach Graham Arnold says the will of the wounded champions might.

Having sealed a maiden appearance in the last 16 a fortnight ago, leaders Sydney have a battle on their hands for top spot in Group H with second-placed Urawa Red Diamonds which will be decided in Tuesday night's final fixtures.

If the Japanese heavyweights beat Korean side Pohang Steelers at home, the Sky Blues will have to defeat already-eliminated reigning Asian champions Guangzhou in China to stay at the summit and ensure a more favourable round-of-16 draw - against FC Seoul or Shandong Luneng.

Sydney have conquered Luiz Felipe Scolari's mega-money outfit before - a shock 2-1 upset at Allianz Stadium in February.

In their favour at Tianhe Stadium is that Colombian striker Jackson Martinez is injured, Brazilian midfielder Paulinho suspended and his compatriot Ricardo Goulart a chance of not featuring.

Regardless, Arnold is wary of the threat posed by a local team playing to restore some of their crushed pride after a shock group-stage exit - along with what he says are scarcely believable match bonuses.

"My information is that Martinez is out injured, Paulinho is out suspended and they won't play Goulart, but they will play all their Chinese players who are getting paid $US40,000 net for a win.

"So I'd imagine we'll be up against an extremely motivated Chinese side with 35,000 people there, that as current Asian Champions are hurting at not getting through to the last 16.

"When Guangzhou came to play us in Sydney they had a private aeroplane and a player to each room, and they had that bonus as well.

"And we did the job in Sydney, so our mentality has to be to go out and spoil their party."

Arnold said his team were sharp, though he'll be without suspended striker Matt Simon and departed pair Ali Abbas and Mickael Tavares.

He also has the unenviable decision of whether to risk five players on yellow cards.

Defenders Seb Ryall and Matt Jurman, utility David Carney, striker Shane Smeltz and first-choice goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic are all on one yellow and will be suspended for the first game in the tougher round of 16 should they pick up another against Guangzhou.

"That would hurt us," Arnold said.

"So I've got to decide over the next 24 hours whether to take that risk or play players that don't have the yellows, who I'm very confident in will still do the job of winning the game."