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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 9:03am
SportChina
SOCCER

Elkeson a big name in Asian soccer

Guangdong's Brazil striker building a reputation that eclipses team's stars

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 September, 2013, 3:53am

In little over half a season, Brazilian striker Elkeson has risen from relative obscurity to become one of the most talked about players in Asian soccer, eclipsing many of his higher-profile Guangzhou Evergrande teammates.

The former Cruzeiro forward was not included in Guangzhou's squad for the group stages of the AFC Champions League but his form in the Chinese Super League, where he has scored 21 times this season, saw him included for the latter stages at the expense of Paraguayan World Cup star and former Borussia Dortmund striker Lucas Barrios.

Elkeson, 24, scored Guangzhou's opener against Lekhwiya in the first leg as Marcello Lippi's side notched up a 2-0 win at home but he knows Wednesday's second leg in Doha will be no stroll in the park.

"We were happy with the performance in the first leg, which was a very important match," he said. "This game will cause us problems, but we will do our best to qualify for the semi-finals.

"We played really well in the first game and now we want to achieve another one of our goals and qualify for the semi-finals."

Guangzhou were eliminated at this stage last season in what was their debut participation in the AFC Champions League as Lippi's side slipped up against two-time winners Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia.

With a two-goal cushion over the Qatari side, who lack the pedigree and talent of last season's conquerors, Guangzhou's chances of advancing are strong.

That would see the club achieve one of their key goals for the season. A place in the last four was targeted by Lippi and the club's senior management at the start of the year but the ultimate goal is to become China's first Asian champions since Liaoning back in 1990.

To do that, Guangzhou will have to overcome a solid array of Asia's finest talent.

J.League representatives Kashiwa Reysol face Saudi Arabian side Al Shabab having drawn their opening meeting in Japan 1-1, with the winners of that encounter due to take on Guangzhou should they advance.

Al Ahli, beaten finalists last season and also from Saudi Arabia, travel to face FC Seoul having also shared a 1-1 draw, while Iranian champions Esteghlal will take a 1-0 advantage into their quarter-final with Thailand's Buriram United.

"The teams from Japan and Saudi Arabia who are left in the competition are very strong," Elkeson said. "But I hope we can keep going forward."

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