Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Guangzhou: Coach Fabio Cannavaro praised the “unity and spirit” of his Guangzhou Evergrande side as the former winners overcame the injuries of several key players to secure a 2-0 win over Korea Republic’s Seongnam FC on Wednesday and book their place in the AFC Champions League quarter-finals following a 3-2 aggregate victory.
Having entered the Round of 16 second leg tie at Tianhe Sports Centre Stadium with a 2-1 deficit from last week’s first encounter in Seongnam, 2013 winners Guangzhou were under pressure to keep alive their record of consecutive appearances in the last eight of the continental competition, especially as they would be without Brazilian duo Elkeson and Alan as well as Korea Republic’s Kim Young-gwon due to injury.
But despite another injury, this time to China international Zhang Linpeng after just five minutes, goals in each half from Brazilian forward Ricardo Goulart ensured that Marcello Lippi’s run of three straight quarter-final appearances was extended to four under his replacement and prodigy Cannavaro.
“We had to play this match without Alan, Elkeson, Kim Young-gwon and then we lost Zhang early on and yet we still achieved the victory – so this result is fantastic for us,” said Cannavaro.
“Ricardo Goulart is an extraordinary player, but I would like to show my appreciation for the rest of the players in the side because, in the absence of the four key players I mentioned, they had a lot of responsibility to perform and they were able to achieve a great victory.
“Two years ago we were the Asian champions and we have rich experiences from then. Despite the personnel change since then what made us really strong is still there, the spirit of the team.
“So, in difficult times, we can all upon that spirit and unity and still be the best team in China.”
Under Lippi, Cannavaro captained Italy to the 2006 FIFA World Cup title and his former coach was in attendance on Wednesday.
“I didn’t feel any additional pressure as I have faced pressure for many years as a player and a now as a coach – I have no fear of pressure. When under pressure as a player or coach I can still perform to my best,” added Cannavaro.
“From day one in this job I had to deal with many different people’s views after the role was handed down to me by Mr. Lippi, one of the greatest coaches.
“He watched the whole process on the pitch and, as everyone knows, I have a close relationship with him, it was very satisfying to get the win.”