Yugoslavian national team legend and Guangzhou R&F coach, Dragan Stojkovic, has gone head-to-head with new South Melbourne coach Sasa Kolman in the lead up to their friendly.
84-cap Stojkovic has Australian connections throughout his coaching career, managing Josh Kennedy to the J-League title and 2010/11 golden boot award at Nagoya Grampus, before more recently coaching Apostoulos Giannou at the Chinese Super League club.
"As a player and as a coach, we come practically every year because I love this place. Two years ago we went to Sydney. Last year in Brisbane. This year in Melbourne,” Stojkovic said.
Guangzhou face South Melbourne at Lakeside Stadium on February 8, with free entry to all spectators, and the two coaches discussed their relative careers before the match.
"I'm a younger generation than ‘Piksy’ (Stojkovic's nickname). He is my childhood hero. I was following him when he was playing,” Kolman said.
“He was one of the biggest names in ex-Yugoslavia. It's an honour to be coaching against him. You can go to all the ex-Yugoslavian countries and ask about this name.
“Trust me, they're going to know him. The number ten. The captain. He's my hero but I want to beat him."
Stojkovic played at the 1990 and 1998 World Cups, and was named in the World Cup All Star Team for the former. Head of South Melbourne’s A-League bid, Bill Papastergiadis, said Thursday’s friendly match was a great opportunity for football fans.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to bring together highly regarded clubs playing quality football in Melbourne,” he said.
“Football fans will be able to come to a world-class facility and watch a Melbourne club playing against a Chinese Super League team without having to pay $50-$100 to get in
“South Melbourne understands great football should be accessible to its dedicated members, supporters, players and families. For this reason we are throwing open the Lakeside gates and offering free entry for everyone on Thursday night."