Lippi upbeat ahead of AFC Champions League title decider
Updated: 2013-11-09 09:32
Gao Lin, center, of Guangzhou Evergrande celebrates with teammates Conca, right, and Elkeson after scoring against FC Seoul during their 2013 AFC Champions League final in Seoul, South Korea, on Oct 26, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]
GUANGZHOU, China - Marcello Lippi is in positive mood ahead of the second leg of AFC Champions League final as Guangzhou Evergrande take away goals advantage against FC Seoul into Saturday's decisive match.
"We're all ready with all our pre-injuried playes available now," said Lippi at a pre-match press conference here on Friday afternoon. "We do have a lot of respect towards our opponents FC Seoul, but It's a match that any player will go all out for it. So we'll see what's happening."
Lippi's side, who secured their third straight title of the Chinese Super League in mid October with three rounds remaining, will host the South Korean champs at Tianhe Stadium on Saturday evening as the Evergrande eye on being crowned to become the first Chinese side to win an Asian title since Liaoning in 1990.
At the 2-2 first leg draw in Seoul two weeks ago, Guangzhou were leveled by a goal from Dejan Damjanovic only eight minutes to go, while two of their regular starters Zeng Cheng and Sun Xiang got injured in the match.
"Obviously tomorrow's game will decide who are the champions for the year 2013. Anything could happen tomorrow," said Lippi. "Hopefully it can be a very positive result tomorrow with all the support from our fans."
The 65-year-old Italian got echoed by his captain and playmaker Zheng Zhi, who seemed confident and determined ahead of the final match.
"Now we are in great shape, and the players that used to in poor now are back to the lineup," said Zheng. "We feel very excited about tomorrow's game, and with all the audience in Guangzhou, I think we can make it here."
In the last decade, the Chinese soccer fans had little to celebrate, both in national and professional level. It was back to the year 1990 when the country last and for the only time tasted continental success as Liaoning lifted the trophy of the now-defunct Asian Club Championship.
After Guangzhou made the final by scoring 14 goals in the previous two rounds, defeating Qatar's Lekhwiya over two legs before beating Japanese J-League's Kashiwa Reysol 8-1 on aggregate in the semifinals, people all around the country are talking about the promising possibility of reversing years of poor performances by the Chinese soccer on the continent.
Even the ticket price for the home leg are going higher than that of a European Champions League final.
"I heard of it (ticket price), which shows the big support from our fans," said Lippi. "It's not much pressure on us, just the enthusiasm to win this match. All of us want to win. That's very important for our team. Tomorow's game hopefully goes our way."
"In the past one and a half years, we have grown a lot. As we said before, the team has an excellent season this year. For tomorrow's game, I told my players to play what we used to, to work hard, to have great heart, and to keep physically well."
"Guangzhou Evergrande is a Chinese team, though we have four foreign players as all other teams do. And if tomorrow's game goes our way, it's of course a very positive thing for the Chinese soccer," he came up to admit it.
Lippi coached Italy to the 2006 FIFA World Cup title and Italian club Juventus to the 1996 UEFA Champions League crown, and is very promising to become the first coach to win both the European and the Asian club championships.
"I think it's no difference between winning an Asian title and a Euro one. The only thing to be quite different is the victory in 2006," said the Italian.
"Tomorrow's game will not be very easy. I think it's 50-50," he added.