Guangzhou must step up in AFC Champions League final, says Conca

The Guangdong club may be favourites for Asian final, but playmaker warns against complacency

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 November, 2013, 9:41pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 November, 2013, 9:41pm

With home-field advantage and two away goals in the bank, Guangzhou Evergrande should go into Saturday's second leg of the AFC Champions League final against FC Seoul at Tianhe Stadium as favourites.

But for Dario Conca, the Argentinian playmaker who has been so instrumental to the club's success since joining in mid-2011, those benefits will count for nothing if he and his teammates are incapable of stepping up in the remaining 90 minutes.

"It's going to be amazing to be at home because this is our place, we know the field and we have our fans to support us and this is our stadium and it's going to be something positive for us," said Conca.

It's up to us to do our work and to put 100 per cent effort into winning the game
Dario Conca

"But in the end, it's not the biggest factor that will influence the result of the match. It's up to us to do our work and to put 100 per cent effort into winning the game.

"I don't believe the goals we scored in Seoul are an advantage. If you lose the match then it's useless, but if you win of course it could be an advantage. It all depends on the outcome of the second game and we'll see. If they score enough goals to win then it's not an advantage at all."

Guangzhou are just one game away from becoming the first Chinese club to be crowned Asian champions since the creation of the AFC Champions League in 2002 and the first club from the nation to win any continental title since Liaoning won the Asian Club Championship in 1990.

The first leg in Seoul concluded in a 2-2 draw after a see-saw affair that ended with Montenegrin striker Dejan Damjanovic levelling for FC Seoul seven minutes from time after Gao Lin and Elkeson had cancelled out Sergio Escudero's early opener.

"Saturday's game is a very important match and will be much more difficult than the first match because both teams know each other, so there's more to play with," said Conca. "But we're not going to hold back. We're going to put all our effort into the game. It's going to be entertaining, a lot of fun but there is always that level of seriousness that's going to be present."

The AFC Champions League final is Conca's second appearance in the deciding match of a continental club championship, having previously played in the final of the Copa Libertadores for Fluminense in 2008.

That clash with LDU Quito ended in defeat for the Argentinian and his Brazilian clubmates in a penalty shoot-out but the experience gained in games of that magnitude - and in the AFC Champions League over the last two seasons - should stand Guangzhou in good stead for the upcoming 90 minutes.

"It's an important factor because if you have had previous experience in these kind of global games it does help going into the second match," he said.

"In my opinion, the first match is used to get to know the opponent in detail and then the second match you plan out the whole match in order to win it. The experience I had previously will help out with this second leg.

"Last year's experience has helped us a lot. It's hard to feel very important when it's your first time playing in a tournament, but when you get there again the next year and in the years to come then you start to feel as if you are part of a group of very high-level teams worldwide.

"This is something that is very positive for our team. It has helped us a lot and hopefully it will go our way this year."