We're not in the final yet, Lippi warns Guangzhou Evergrande players
Despite three-goal lead for AFC Champions League second-leg semis, Italian stays cautious
Old habits die hard for Marcello Lippi - even though his Guangzhou Evergrande side hold a three-goal lead going into the second leg of their AFC Champions League semi-final against Kashiwa Reysol this evening, the Italian coach remains cautious.
The Chinese Super League champions should become the first mainland team to reach the final of the continent's premier club competition since Dalian Wanda progressed to the decider of the old Asian Club Championship in 1998, but Lippi is taking nothing for granted despite a 4-1 win in Japan last week.
"This is going to be a challenging match, we're not going to be thinking of the result of the first game and we are expecting Kashiwa to try their best to flip the result of the game we've already had," the 2006 World Cup winner said.
"Of course, it will be quite hard for them, but in football anything can happen. We will try our best to win the game and hopefully that will be the way it will go."
Guangzhou have scored four times in each of their last three games, the most recent of which was a 4-0 win over Hangzhou Greentown in the Chinese Super League at the weekend, for which Lippi made eight changes from the side who defeated Kashiwa.
Brazilian striker Elkeson came off the bench to score twice to take his tally in the league to 23 and his total over the last three games to four, underlining the added potency the 24-year-old has brought since supplanting the ineffectual Lucas Barrios as the club's main striker.
A full house is expected at Tianhe Stadium to witness Guangzhou's anticipated progress to the final as the club continue their drive to become the first Asian champions from China since Liaoning FC won the Asian Club Championship in 1990.
"I was offered the position to coach this team and I grasped the opportunity to come here," said Lippi. "I wasn't only asked to be coach but also to take on a managerial role, too, and that's what we've been doing since we started here a year ago. We've grown a lot since then and I'm planning things for this team's future and we've already reached a lot of the objectives I set.
"At the minute, we've reached a level that is good for me, but we will keep on going."