Guangzhou Evergrande head coach Fabio Cannavaro has asked his side to step up the rhythm of their play when they try to get past Kashima Antlers in the second leg of their Asian Champions League quarter-final.
Guangzhou Evergrande go into the clash (due to take place on September 18 in Japan), with the scores even following a 0-0 draw in the first leg in China — and Cannavaro says he knows full well his outfit must improve if they are to attain passage through to the semi-final.
Chinese Super League table-toppers Guangzhou Evergrande fought out the goalless draw with Cannavaro recognising the need to step up a gear in the return encounter. After the frustrating display, he admitted that his players were a little bit “slow to pass the ball from back to front”. and added that Kashima Antlers — who are the defending champions in the tournament — delivered a decent display with a clear target:
“not to lose a goal by the way they set up at the start of the game”.
So, it is all up for grabs and the prize for the team that snares victory is a semi-final showdown with either Shanghai SIPG or Urawa Red Diamonds. They, too, have it all to play for with the first leg of their quarter-final tie ended in a 2-2 stalemate.
A bonus for Cannavaro and his side was that Brazil-born ace Elkeson was able to get some much-sought-after game time as he made his first appearance for Guangzhou Evergrande since he made the switch from Shanghai SIPG.
Ex-Benfica wing wizard Anderson Talisca was perhaps the home side’s best performer in what can only be best described as an average performance — this was typified by a lacklustre display from the normally exciting talent that is former Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona string-puller Paulinho.
Before the eagerly anticipated clash with Kasmina Antlers though, Cannavoro’s troops must get their heads round a return to league action — and they get the chance to do just that when they come up against Jiangsu Sainty. Boss Cosmin Olaroiu will be looking for his side, currently fifth in the league standings, to push for a top four finish when the two teams meet on September 13 at the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre — with a full-house of more than 60,000 fans expected.
Head coach Olaroiu will also ask former Inter Milan defender Miranda to do a job for him as he tries to repel the lethal marksmanship of Guangzhou Evergrande. The Brazilian stopper is vastly experienced and well capable of leading a backline that can cope with a dangerous attack. Time will of course tell if he and his team-mates are able to do this. The opponents have goals in them that is for sure — and they are not top of the table for nothing.