Guangzhou Evergrande boss Lee Jang-Soo has confirmed Argentine star midfielder Dario Conca will miss Tuesday's vital AFC Champions League (ACL) clash away to Buriram United.
The former Fluminense man had a nine-game suspension imposed on him by the club after his reaction to being substituted in their last ACL match, a 3-1 home loss to Jeonbuk Motors.
However, Conca travelled with the team to Thailand and speculation had been rife that he'd play despite the internal suspension, with Brazilian striker Muriqui battling injury and the team in need of quality.
“He (Conca) will not be playing in tomorrow’s game because of his earlier ban. I cannot reveal the starting line-up for tomorrow’s game just yet,” Lee told reporters.
“He (Muriqui) is undergoing treatment and has been practicing with his team. We’ll see how ready he is after today’s practice and will see if he is fit to play tomorrow.”
The news is a blow for the big-spending Chinese champions who need to win in Thailand to ensure they progress to the knockout stage through Group H.
Lee added: “Group H is a very competitive group. Tomorrow’s game will be the deciding factor in who will take charge of this group."
Jeonbuk currently lead the group on nine points ahead of Guangzhou and Kashiwa Reysol on seven points, with Buriram in last on six points.
Buriram boss Attapol Buspakom knows a home victory will see them through to the next stage and was optimistic they could get the vital three points.
"We are determined to collect this much needed win for the team,” Buspakom told reporters. “I think that all games from here on are vitally important for every team.
"We’ll be giving it our best to grab a victory. Guangzhou might find Thailand’s weather a bit of factor, but having been in Thailand for a week now, hopefully they have somewhat adjusted to it.”
He added: "I am confident that the team will do everything they can to gain these three points and go through the next round. Hopefully the Thai fans can root for us.
“We have a home ground advantage and our team is quick so we are looking to utilise this in our tactics.”