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December 3, 2020

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SIPG coach Pereira claims Hulk lacks ‘right spirit’

Shanghai SIPG coach Vitor Pereira said out-of-favor forward Hulk lacked the “right spirit” after a spat that may have brought the Brazil international’s time at the club to a bad-tempered close.

Pereira dropped the powerfully built Hulk, 34, for the second straight game on Tuesday, a surprise 0-4 thrashing by already-eliminated Sydney FC in the AFC Champions League’s group phase.

It follows an exchange between the two after Hulk was subbed during last Wednesday’s 0-1 loss to Yokohama F Marinos, when the Brazilian mouthed off at Pereira before storming out.

On Tuesday, Pereira was candid when asked about Hulk, a talisman for SIPG who has totted up 100 Chinese Super League appearances and captained it to the domestic title in 2018.

“I want the players with the right spirit to play,” the Portuguese said. “This is my decision (not to play him) and that is why he is not here.”

Hulk’s contract is up at the end of this year, and he posted what appeared to be a valedictory message after the coronavirus-delayed Chinese season.

The 48-cap Brazil international signed from Zenit St Petersburg in 2016.

On Monday, he posted a photo of himself in training on Chinese social media, with the caption: “Physically I’m strong, but psychologically I’m even stronger.”

SIPG is through to the knockout phase in the ACL, which is being played in a bio-secure “bubble” in Doha, Qatar.


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