Source: China State Council Information Office
Guangzhou Evergrande boss Fabio Cannavaro was left to lament his side’s lack of confidence after the Chinese powerhouse slipped to a 3-1 AFC Champions League group stage defeat against Vissel Kobe on Wednesday.
With Andres Iniesta pulling the strings, the Japanese ran away with the match at Khalifa International Stadium, leaving Guangzhou stranded on one point from two matches in Doha, and stretching their winless streak in all competitions to four.
Those statistics make for grim reading for a club accustomed to yearly success, and Cannavaro laid out his expectations for their two remaining Group G matches in no uncertain terms.
“The result is bad. We tried but I know that something in my team is not clear,” he said. “I don’t know if they’re afraid to play or they’re not confident anymore, but this is my job.
“I need to try to do my best to give them the confidence to play, because I know they’re very good players, and we can do much, much, much better than we are.”
“(The thing we need to fix is) the confidence of my players, because I know they’re much better than this. I’ve had three years now with them and I know they can play better football than this. In this kind of moment, we need to use the things we know.
“During the game I spoke with my staff, and I said that something is completely different (with our team).”
Guangzhou’s winless run is something out of the ordinary for a club which has won the Chinese Super League eight times in the last 10 seasons, but their struggles against Japanese opposition have become an increasingly regular occurrence.
They have taken just two points from their last six games against J League clubs, and Cannavaro explained his side’s carelessness in possession is something that Japan’s top clubs have the ability to punish.
“They make you run a lot,” said the 2006 FIFA World Cup winner. “They like to control, but we know that.
“We gave them some difficulties in the first half, but the problem was when we lost the ball, because we lost the ball so quickly. We need to be more focused on doing the right things and making the right choices, because its football. If you don’t do the right things, and you lose the ball every three touches, it’s going to be difficult.
“The beginning of the second half was much better. We were more confident, and we did nice things, but not enough.”
With just three days before the sides cross paths again, Cannavaro has limited time to solve Guangzhou’s problems, but Vissel Kobe boss Atsuhiro Miura will arrive for Saturday’s clash in the knowledge that his side have already stamped their ticket to the Round of 16.
With just one win in their last 10 domestic matches, Vissel arrived in Qatar wondering where their next victory would come from, but it took just 90 minutes, plus goals from Kyogo Furuhashi, Douglas and the outstanding Iniesta, to brighten the club’s outlook, with Miura urging his side to aim high in the remainder of the tournament.
“Guangzhou are a very strong team and they have several strong individual players,” said Miura, who replaced German coach Thorsten Fink as the club’s head coach in late September.
“They have several good Brazilian players. That’s why we analysed how they play and how to prevent them from showing their strengths. We did everything well and everything went how we wanted it to, that’s why we got the result we wanted.
“It’s been a tough time in Japan, but now we’ve won this game and we’ve got some confidence back. Of course, we hope to keep on like this, but at the same time we have prepared a lot of things for the Champions League and that preparations are why we’ve been able to get a good result today. Now, we want to go as far as possible.”