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September 17, 2019

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SIPG raring for ACL battle at Urawa

Shanghai SIPG manager Vitor Pereira has said that the team’s AFC Champions League match against J League side Urawa Red Diamonds today will be a chance for the club to prove its quality and ability.

“Everything is possible and the result is open,” the Portuguese said at the pre-match press conference in Saitama yesterday.

“Tomorrow is a chance for us to prove that we deserve a place in the AFC Champions League.”

SIPG will take on Urawa at the Saitama Stadium in their ACL quarterfinal, second-leg clash.

The Chinese Super League defending champion managed to maintain its undefeated home record in the Asian league three weeks ago, drawing 2-2 with Urawa in the first leg at Shanghai Stadium. SIPG was 0-2 down before captain Hulk scored from the penalty spot twice.

“Tomorrow we need to score at least one goal,” said Pereira. “Urawa will have a lot of supporters, but my team will play with confidence... For me, confidence is given by yourself, not by others.

“We need to keep our form and battle for ball control all the time. I hope the players can balance their emotion, keep up their motivation and avoid big mistakes. We will try our best and enjoy the game.”

Hulk is banned for the match due to cumulative yellow cards. Uzbekistan midfielder Odil Akhmedov will also be missing from the line-up due to injury.

Pereira hopes the team will play as a more cohesive unit to make up for the absence of the two foreign players.

“Thankfully we can still play with 11 players. Urawa is a technical team with quality. We only have one way out — to win the match, because I don’t think the score would be 3-3 or 4-4 (so that SIPG can advance on away goals). Of course, we need luck tomorrow.”

Urawa head coach Tsuyoshi Otsuki said his team won’t play conservative football and has made plans accordingly to deal with the absence of Hulk and Ahkmedov for SIPG.

“We can’t wait to play the match,” said Otsuki. “Given the first-leg result, we should be able to advance as long as we don’t concede any goals. But if you play conservatively, the result usually goes against your wish. So we will focus on our own style tomorrow.”

“The two teams don’t have much secret against each other by now, so technically there won’t be many surprises.”

SIPG lies third in the domestic league on 53 points, with six more rounds to go. Guangzhou Evergrande leads the CSL standings with 59 points, followed by Beijing Guo’an on 55 points.

SIPG has not had a smooth run recently. It was eliminated in the China FA Cup semifinal in Shanghai by Shandong Luneng late last month, and lost to Shandong again in their CSL 24th-round clash on Friday.

It will not be an easy task for Pereira and his team to win another trophy this year.


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