Hong Kong Stadium

Preview: Sunderland v Spurs

Published:
by Stuart Vose

We look ahead to Barclays Asia Trophy opener.

Sunderland will play their first public friendly of pre-season when they take on Tottenham Hotspur in the Barclays Asia Trophy today (KO 1100 BST).

Paolo Di Canio's side have played two behind-closed-doors practice matches so far, recording victories against a local select XI and Swiss side Chiasso during a training camp in Italy.

The squad jetted out to Hong Kong last weekend and will be hoping to get their Trophy challenge off to a flying start.

Di Canio has boosted his squad with a number of new signings, including Juventus winger Emmanuel Giaccherini who linked up with the squad last week after completing his move to the Stadium of Light.

And fans will be looking forward to getting a glimpse of some of the other new boys too, including striker Jozy Altidore who also signed for the club during the Italian training camp.

The team trained at the Hong Kong Stadium last night ahead of their clash with a Spurs side who provided the opposition in the last league game of 2012-13.

The North London club came out on top on that day thanks to a late goal from Gareth Bale, who will not play this evening due to a knock according to Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas.

The former Chelsea man is expecting a tough test this evening and expects the game to be complete different to last season's clashes between the two sides.

"[They were] very exciting, particularly the game at White Hart Lane which would have been the [UEFA Champions League] decider – full of drama as it should be – but in the end we got the win we wanted which wasn’t enough to reach our objective and our dream," he said.

"The first game was one of our great games away from home in terms of football and last year we had good experiences against them.

"But obviously it will be different now. With Paolo, they have found a new manager that has now had time to set up his squad, choose his players and start from a pre-season, so we have to take them to be a completely different level than what they were last year."

Meanwhile there are a number of question marks surrounding Di Canio's team selection with Sunderland's head coach able to pick from a host of new faces.

There's competition right throughout the side, not least in goal where Keiren Westwood and Vito Mannone have been vying for a start this evening.

And Di Canio will see the game as a useful barometer of his side's progress so far during a pre-season which has seen them putting in the hard yards of the training ground.

Following Sunderland's game this evening, Manchester City will take on South China, with the winners of both matches meeting in Saturday's final.