Cannavaro vows to get Guangzhou back on track
Saitama: Fabio Cannavaro vowed to work to arrest his Guangzhou Evergrande side’s current slump in form after Urawa Red Diamonds handed the Chinese Super League leaders a 2-0 defeat in the first leg of their 2019 AFC Champions League semi-final on Wednesday to leave their continental title hopes hanging by a thread.
The defeat extended Guangzhou’s winless run to six straight games in all competitions and means Cannavaro’s side will need to mount a major comeback in the second leg at Tianhe Stadium on October 23 if they are to progress to the final and keep alive their hopes of a record third AFC Champions League crown.
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“After going 14 matches in a row without losing a single match I can see that the team has kind of stopped,” said Cannavaro. “But now we have to be smart to get back because we still have a chance in the AFC Champions League and to win the Chinese Super League because we are in pole position.
“We can do that but we have to be smart. This kind of stop - because we put so much effort into the last three months - was predictable. But now we cannot lose any time, we have to be smart and we have to go higher and recover and we have to be ready for the coming matches.”
Guangzhou were left with a major challenge after a goal in each half from Fabricio and Takahiro Sekine moved Urawa to the verge of a second AFC Champions League final in three years for the J.League side and their third in total.
Cannavaro had stressed before the game that he was anticipating a major challenge against Urawa despite their own struggles in their domestic league and he retained hope that his team could recover to claim a place in next month’s final against either Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal or Al Sadd from Qatar.
“I knew it would be a difficult match today, I was expecting a tough game,” he said. “I knew our opponent would be very strong and because I was expecting such an opponent - especially in the first half – so I decided on the 11 we fielded in the starting line-up.
“I was expecting a difficult match, but I didn’t expect to concede two goals. I didn’t expect that, but this is football and we have to get ready and prepare for the next match.
“I still think we have a chance to get to the final. We have to prepare and we know it is going to be hard, but we will do our best. We still have the quality to do that so let’s wait for the match in Guangzhou.”
FULL-TIME | @REDSOFFICIAL 🇯🇵 2-0 Guangzhou Evergrande 🇨🇳— AFC Champions League (@TheAFCCL) October 2, 2019
👌 Urawa returned to form when it mattered most as goals from Fabricio and Takahiro Sekine sees them take a 2⃣-goal advantage to Tianhe 🏟 for the 2nd leg in 3⃣ weeks' time 👏#URAvGUA | Semi-Finals | #ACL2019 pic.twitter.com/eyRgEmALT5
After the disappointment of the defeat, Cannavaro stressed his players had to look forward to the second leg.
“Today I told the players before the game that we should try to do some things and we did a couple of them during the match and we created a couple of clear chances to score,” he said. “But this is in the past now, let’s focus on the next match and be ready for that.”
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