Guangzhou Evergrande on course for Asian Champions League semi-final

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 September, 2013, 9:10pm

Despite a two-goal cushion, Marcello Lippi has called for calm with his Guangzhou Evergrande team on the brink of reaching the AFC Champions League semi-finals for the first time.

The Italian's side lead Qatar's Lekhwiya 2-0 from the first leg at Tianhe Stadium last month thanks to goals from Elkeson and Dario Conca, but the World Cup-winning coach knows the task is only half-complete.

"The most important thing is to keep our equilibrium and we will try to stay balanced and score goals," said Lippi, who is seeking to become the first coach to win Champions League titles in both Asia and Europe. "We will work to keep our balance. With the 2-0 win in our first game, it's not enough to guarantee our place in the semifinals."

Guangzhou fell at this stage last year in their debut appearance in the competition, losing 4-2 in the first leg against Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia in Jeddah before winning 2-1 in the second leg in Guangzhou.

And Lippi, a winner of the Uefa Champions League with Juventus in 1996, is taking nothing for granted ahead of tonight's meeting at Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium on the edge of Doha.

At stake is a place in the competition's semi-finals and a meeting with either Kashiwa Reysol of Japan or Saudi Arabia's Al Shabab.

"In the history of both the European and Asian Champions Leagues, there have been many surprising results when a team has led 4-0 and then the result has been overturned," he said.

"My team has to know its qualities and how to use them. Of course, it's an advantage that we have this lead, but it doesn't allow our players to relax. It's only an advantage if we keep the same level of concentration as we did in the home game."

Lippi is expected to name a full-strength side and doesn't expect his team, who have been in Qatar since Saturday, to have too many difficulties playing in the desert climate.

"We already experienced the heat last year, so the climate isn't too much of a problem," he said. "In the day, it's hot but during the night it's ok. In Guangzhou on some night's it's hotter than here. We have a few players with minor injuries but after our session in the morning we'll decide who will play."