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We’re here to win, says Beijing’s Génésio ahead of AFC Champions League date with FC Seoul 

Doha: Beijing FC are fresh, match-fit and ready to win when they resume their 2020 AFC Champions League campaign against FC Seoul on Saturday, according to head coach Bruno Génésio.

Out of action on the continental stage since February, but with a full Chinese Super League campaign under their belt, the Chinese outfit are confident of mounting a challenge in a competition where they have been regular participants, but rarely serious contenders.

With three points in the bank from their earlier hit out against Chiangrai United, Génésio’s charges will have the opportunity to rise to the top of Group E with a win at Education City Stadium, and the Frenchman declared there was a sense of optimism around the club, despite what has been a challenging 2020.

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“When you start a competition, you must have ambition to win, no matter what competition it is,” said the former Olympique Lyonnais boss. “We had lots of difficulties this year, for example, we couldn’t see our families for a long time, but we have to be strong.

“We have come here, and the first objective, of course, is to qualify from the group. We will try to win the games with all the ambition, and I think our advantage is that we just finished our Chinese Super League.

“Our team has a good rhythm compared to the other teams (in the group), and we’ll try to do as well as possible here.”

While the club from the Chinese capital arrive having beaten Shanghai SIPG to finish third in their domestic league just over a week ago, Génésio is not without his selection headaches.

Cedric Bakambu, the Congolese striker who lit up the Chinese Super League with 14 goals in 19 matches in the 2020 campaign, is the most conspicuous absentee in the Beijing squad.

Group E - MD2: Chiangrai United 0-1 Beijing FC

Génésio said the club had prioritised the health of the squad over the availability of the former Villareal man, who has contributed more than 50 goals in 71 appearances for Beijing.

“Cedric Bakambu personally wanted to go back to his national team to play in very important matches for his country, so we respected what he wanted,” said Génésio.

“Secondly, I spoke with the club, and we didn’t want to take any risks in terms of COVID-19, so for the interests of the teams and for the players as well, we decided to take his name off the list, but it was a very difficult decision for me.”

On a more promising note for Beijing fans, Spanish star and Jonathan Viera and Li Ke (pictured above), formerly known as Nico Yennaris, appear to be emerging from their respective injury clouds, although their boss stopped short from declaring them fit to take on FC Seoul.

“They’ve coming along very well. They’ve already been training with the team for four days,” Génésio. declared

“I’m not sure if they can start the game because it would be a risk for them, but they are okay. They will be on the list, and let’s see at the last moment (if they will play).”

While Beijing are keen to capitalise on a sense of continuity, FC Seoul arrived at the tournament having appointed Lee Won-jun as caretaker coach just seven days ago, making him the fourth man to take charge of the club in 2020.

After finishing third in the K League in 2019, this year has been an exceptionally difficult one for Seoul, who finished a disappointing ninth in their domestic competition and more recently suffered the tragic loss of defender Kim Nam-chun, who passed away last month.

Speaking ahead of his first game in charge of the club he has worked for more than a decade, Kim declared belief that his side would be ready to perform, despite their recent ordeal.

“Everybody knows the we had a difficult situation as a team,” he said. “Our coaching staff and our players have prepared very well for this competition, and I think if we keep doing and working like we did, I think we can bring the good results.

“Before we came to Qatar we were preparing in Seoul. We are preparing as one team and we are ready for the game.”

Making things even more difficult for Seoul is the absence of Ju Se-jong and Yoon Jong-gyu, who were part of the coronavirus-hit Korea Republic squad which spent last week on international duty in Austria.

But despite the string of challenges confronting his side, Kim revealed that he remains optimistic of pushing deep into the competition, having kicked off their campaign with a 1-0 win over Melbourne Victory in February.

Group E - MD2: FC Seoul 1-0 Melbourne Victory

“Of course, our goal is to win the competition,” he said. “We are going to think that each game is our final, and we’re going to try to do our best in every game.

“I know that playing games every three days is going to be really hard for us, for our condition and our mentality. I think what’s important is our condition and our training, and I think recovery will be the key to these three games.”

FC Seoul (KOR) v Beijing FC (CHN)
Venue: Education City Stadium, Doha
Kick-off: 13:00 (UTC+3)

Poll ends at 16:00 (UTC+8) on December 3.

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