Past not a factor for Jeonbuk's Morais
Shanghai: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors coach Jose Morais will pay no attention to the history books as he prepares his team for the second leg of their 2019 AFC Champions League Round of 16 meeting after seeing them held to a 1-1 draw by Shanghai SIPG on Wednesday.
The two teams shared the spoils in the first leg in Shanghai in their previous meeting in the knockout rounds of the competition – then it was the quarter-finals – in 2016 before Jeonbuk went on to hand the Chinese Super League side a 5-0 thrashing before going on to eventually win the title.
But Morais, who replaced long-term coach Choi Hang-hee at the start of the season, was refusing to take any cues from the past after seeing SIPG’s Wang Shenchao cancel out Moon Seon-min’s first minute opener to leave the tie delicately poised.
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“I’m aware of the history but obviously history is past,” said the Portuguese coach. “My focus is in the present and I can’t take the past to the present and take it for granted. We have to prepare. We are aware of the task. We have the quality to win this game and this is what we will prepare for.
“It was an intense game, in some moments it had a little bit too much intensity and was almost at the limit, but it was an interesting game. We had the best opportunities to make a different score but it was 1-1.
“Our opponent is a good opponent and they acted composed and defended very well. They have interesting players up front with quality and in the end the result wasn’t what we expected, because we really wanted to win. But it was a draw and I think we have to accept that and take the next step for the next game.”
SIPG coach Vitor Pereira admitted his players were rattled by Moon’s early strike, with the Korea Republic international seeing his shot cross the line with less than a minute on the clock.
But the former Porto coach praised his players for the manner in which they fought back, with Wang heading home the equaliser six minutes before the interval, and he remains confident SIPG can go through.
“After a minute they had an advantage and this is a handicap,” he said. “We played for 15 minutes without balance because emotionally we suffered, because conceding a goal in the first minute is not easy.
“After I think we had a good reaction and we started to play our game and in the first half we spoke a little bit about where we had space and what we had to do to explore the spaces and I think we created good situations to score. But in the end the result was 1-1. It’s half time and it will be tough.”
Pereira, who led SIPG to their first-ever Chinese Super League title last season, was not surprised by the challenge his team faced against the two-time champions and he expects more of the same next week.
“I said before it would be a tough match for us because I know how this team plays, it’s not easy to control players who are two metres tall in the box, with the second balls, and they are aggressive,” he said.
“It was a very tough game but we created and we managed to score and we could have won the match at least 2-1. But football is football. In football you have to create, you have to score and not concede. We conceded in the first minute and it was for us not easy to get the balance again.
“But in the end I think my team had a good reaction and it is half time, the score was 1-1 and this is what we can do. Now we have to prepare for the next match and after to think about a strategy to play them.”
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