Guangzhou Evergrande can lift a record seventh CSL championship in a row on Sunday, but will it be coach Scolari’s last with the club?
South China club can become the Chinese Super League champions against Guizhou Hengfeng with two rounds still to play
Guangzhou Evergrande can lift a record seventh Chinese Super League title in a row on Sunday with two rounds left to play, but coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is almost certain to step down after three seasons in charge of the club.
With a six-point lead over second-placed Shanghai SIPG, Guangzhou – who have dominated the championship since 2011 – can get the job done if they beat visitors Guizhou Hengfeng at Tianhe Stadium.
Their task will be made easier if Shanghai, who host Guangzhou R&F, fail to register a point on the same day. Guangzhou have a superior record against Shanghai in the league this season with a win and a draw which means they will prevail if both teams finish on the same number of points.
It will be the third time Guangzhou have celebrated lifting the championship on home territory after 2012 and last season. Opponents Guizhou, currently seventh in the league standings, have little to play for with survival assured and continental football out of reach.
“The most important thing is to do well against Guizhou. Our players are very experienced and this is what they can do. If they play well, the good result will come,” a club spokesman said.
Although the record title triumph is almost theirs, Guangzhou look set to lose their Brazilian coach as reports in the mainland say Scolari will not stay on after this season. The 68-year-old first arrived in the southern China city to replace Italian Fabio Cannavaro in 2015.
Scolari immediately bought Guangzhou a double in his first season as the club claimed both the Super League and the AFC Champions League title. But the Brazilian failed to repeat the feat last season following a disappointing elimination in the group stage of the regional cup competition.
Scolari had his contract extended for one season last October after potential replacement Marcello Lippi was recruited by the Chinese national team.
Lippi was the Guangzhou coach for three seasons from 2012 to 2014. The Italian also brought them a Chinese Super League and AFC Champions League double in 2013.
Guangzhou made it to the Champions League quarter-finals this season, but were eliminated by rivals Shanghai SIPG in an all-Chinese affair last month as speculation first arose that Scolari could leave the club.
Mainland reports quoted Spanish sports website As.com saying that: “Luiz Felipe Scolari is to leave Guangzhou Evergrande after almost three years in charge of the Chinese club, the former Brazil World Cup-winning coach said on Thursday”.