Stanojevic says Beijing Guoan ready for greater things in Asian Champions League

Stanojevic says Beijing team have the fans and history to compensate for lack of riches

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 5:14am

Beijing Guoan have the fan base and the history - now the club are emerging as serious contenders in Asia's Champions League.

Beijing will put their credentials to the test again tonight in the Chinese Super League against defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande at Workers' Stadium, with confidence flowing thanks to a fine start in both the Asian competition and domestic league.

Three wins and a draw in coach Aleksandar Stanojevic's first four games in charge, featuring back-to-back successes in the league and a win and a draw in the AFC Champions League, ensure Beijing have an identical record to the men from Guangdong.

Stanojevic, a 39-year-old Serb, was appointed head coach by Beijing at the end of last season, replacing Portuguese Jaime Pacheco after impressing at Dalian Aerbin, another club who recently enjoyed a major influx of cash.

"It was my first job in China and Dalian are a club who will have big success in the future because they have a lot of money," said Stanojevic, who steered Partizan Belgrade to back-to-back Serbian titles before moving to China.

"But the capital is the capital, and that's the same everywhere, not just in China. When I was in Serbia, it was the same. I was working in the capital and it was a similar situation, because you have the greatest expectations and it is the same with the fans, so I know the feeling.

"Of course, it's bigger here because everything is bigger here than in Serbia, but I'm happy with that. I like to work with the pressure. I know how to work in this situation.

"I think Guangzhou Evergrande will be a big success in the AFC Champions League. I'm sure they will go very far this year," Stanojevic said of the Marcello Lippi-coached club, who reached the quarter-finals last season.

I think Guangzhou Evergrande will be a big success in the AFC Champions League. I'm sure they will go very far this year

"We have no pressure to do anything big. It's a big difference between Guangzhou and Beijing because they have so much money in their club and in Beijing we don't have that.

"But we have something else - we have great fans and a great history and we are working step by step. We're not expecting too much and we have no pressure this season. But next year, if we qualify for the AFC Champions League again, we hope we can do really well."

Beijing's record in continental competition has been disappointing, with the club reaching the knockout phase just once, in 2005 when they were eliminated in the round of 16.

But, after a draw in South Korea against 2009 champions Pohang Steelers and an impressive performance in their 2-1 victory over J League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima two weeks ago, Guoan hold hopes of progressing to the knockout phase as they prepare to travel to Tashkent to face Uzbekistan's Bunyodkor next Tuesday.

"It's very satisfying to have four points from our first two matches, but I think Pohang are the favourites in our group. They are the best team in the group, with a lot of experience. They were champions a few years ago and Korean teams play with good discipline and play good football. I think they have a big chance."