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Cannavaro demands improvement from Guangzhou Evergrande in AFC Champions League clash with Vissel Kobe


Doha: Guangzhou Evergrande head coach Fabio Cannavaro says his side must improve if they are to get their 2020 AFC Champions League campaign back on track against Japan’s Vissel Kobe on Wednesday.

Held to a goalless draw by Korean outfit Suwon Samsung Bluewings in their opening match on Sunday, the two-time Asian champions will return to Khalifa International Stadium chasing their first win in four matches in all competitions and under pressure to get their continental campaign up and running.

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Speaking ahead of the clash at Khalifa International Stadium, Guangzhou’s Italian boss made it clear he expects a stronger showing from his star-studded squad,

“In the first game we didn’t control the ball, we didn’t control the game and we didn’t play as Guangzhou Evergrande. I expect more from our players and a different game,” said the 2006 FIFA World Cup winner.

Group G - MD2: Suwon Samsung Bluewings 0-0 Guangzhou Evergrande FC

“Usually we like to control the game, to do what we like with possession, with personality. We like to show our style. In the first game with my goalkeeper, my centre-backs and my right and left-back – we didn’t try to play well. We were afraid to play.

“What I ask of them is to be more confident, because I know they can do better. We need to play as a team. We need to play all together, because we know that if we play all together and focus on one goal, even without (the injured) Paulinho, we can score.”

While Guangzhou are in the midst of what is considered a form slump at a club which has won nine Chinese Super League titles in the last 11 seasons, it is a mere blip in comparison to the ongoing struggles of Vissel Kobe.

Despite the presence of household names like Andres Iniesta and Thomas Vermaelen the club has endured a torrid 2020 season, conceding 58 league goals in 33 outings and losing five matches in a row before travelling to Doha.

Those numbers help to explain why Cannavaro’s men are seen as favourites, but the former Ballon d’Or winner insists no game can be taken for granted in the AFC Champions League.

“Whenever we go to Japan to play its difficult, and it’s never easy to win,” he said. “As a coach I know that to win in international competition you need something more.

“You need to play differently, because you can play in your (league) like us and you can try to beat everyone, but when you’re playing international teams you need to do something different.

“You need to be focused. The games are more intense, and the challenge is completely different, so you need to be ready. This is the problem for us in the last five years. When we go outside China it is more difficult to win games.”

While Vissel’s recent domestic form may make difficult reading for fans of the Kobe club, they come into their first match in the Doha ‘bubble’ as group leaders, having beaten Suwon 1-0 back in February.

They also secured a 5-1 win over Johor Darul Ta’zim, a result which was rendered null and void after the Malaysian champions were unable to travel to Qatar, but Vissel boss Atushiro Miura says Group G’s shifting sands will have no bearing on his side’s chances in the competition.

Group G - MD2: Suwon Samsung Bluewings 0-1 Vissel Kobe

“Johor didn’t participate, but it doesn’t matter for us whether they are coming or not,” said Miura, who played for the club for three seasons during the mid-2000s.

“We are focused on ourselves and completing our mission. We’re thinking about our three games and we’ll give everything we have in every game in the hope of achieving a good result.

“It’s a tough time we’ve had, and of course, we couldn’t get the (league) results we wanted, but now we are focused on this competition. Not only the players, but our staff and everybody wants to play in this competition and do very well, so we have confidence and I think it’s a good time for us to play (in the AFC Champions League).”


Guangzhou Evergrande FC (CHN) v Vissel Kobe (JPN)
Venue: Khalifa International Stadium, Doha
Kick-off: 13:00 (UTC+3)


Poll ends at 18:00 (UTC +*) on November 25.

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