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Zhang Lu: We can turn this tie around

Friday, September 14, 2018

Tianjin: Goalkeeper and captain Zhang Lu is adamant that Tianjian Quanjian can overcome a 2-0 deficit and advance to the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League ahead of Tuesday's quarter-final second leg clash with Kashima Antlers.

The custodian does not have to look far for inspiration, either.

Only last year, ties involving clubs from China and Japan in the AFC Champions League saw a series of extraordinary come-from-behind matches.

Urawa Red Diamonds overcame a 3-1 first leg defeat to win 5-4 on aggregate over Kawasaki Frontale, while Guangzhou Evergrande turned around a 4-0 first leg deficit only to lose on penalties.

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"Overall, I felt that we carried out our [first leg] game plan well," said Zhang. "We caused our opponents some problems and created several chances but it’s a pity we couldn’t convert them.

"They were more clinical in their finishing. With our two-goal deficit going into the second leg, we have no choice but to go on the offensive and try to get the goals to give ourselves a chance of progressing to the next stage."


For Zhang, the difference makers on the field at Kashima Soccer Stadium were the home side's pair of Brazilian goalscorers: Serginho (below) and Leo Silva.

And according to the 31-year-old, the South American duo aside, Tianjin's Chinese players should by no means feel inferior to their J.League opponents.

"I think that [the key players] must be Kashima's foreign players, Serginho and Leo Silva," said Zhang.

"We can certainly match up to our Asian counterparts in terms of technical ability, skills and physicality while the same can’t be said about the foreign players.

"So, these two players are the ones that stood out to me."

"Anything can happen in football, especially in this stage of the competition," added Zhang. "But we are confident we can turn this tie around.

"We’re also more familiar with the opponent’s tactics, strengths and weaknesses after the first tie and can use this in our favour to attack them early in the game."

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