“I’m very satisfied with today’s result,” Lippi said on Wednesday. “We’ve been playing a lot of matches consecutively and it might have had an impact on us physically, but today’s result was good. The players concentrated very well, in the game they were well organized and we have realized we are a strong team and we need to continue this way. We have acquired the sort of mentality that we would like to win every match we play.”
As well as the world-famous coach, the team boasts a number of Chinese internationals and expensive foreign imports such as Dario Conca from Argentina and Paraguay’s Lucas Barrios, making them the favorite to lift the trophy and end China’s 24 year drought.
“You have to be honest and say they were the better team,” Central Coast coach Graham Arnold said. “They have some wonderful players with blinding pace and they were the better team, and I wish Marcello Lippi and Evergrande all the best for the coming games. I have to say in the two years we’ve been playing in the AFC Champions League they’re the best team we’ve come up against.”
Kashiwa Reysol of Japan has also impressed and confirmed its title credentials by disposing of Korean powerhouse Jeonbuk Motors.
Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli lost 3-0 to Korea’s Ulsan Horangi in the final in November and is determined to go one better this year, progressing to the quarter-final with a comfortable win over El Jaish of Qatar. Al Shabab become the second Saudi team in the last eight by eliminating Al Gharafa, also of Qatar.
Qatar is represented in the final eight by Lekhwiya, with Iranian giant Esteghlal also making it through. The quarter-final stage is to be played in August and September.