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AFC Champions League

‘I don’t feel pressure,’ says Guangzhou Evergrande boss Cannavaro after shaky start to second stint

The Italian replaced Luiz Felipe Scolari last November but the seven-time league champions have managed just two wins in five games

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 March, 2018, 11:19am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 March, 2018, 11:19am

Fabio Cannavaro has dismissed suggestions he is under pressure after a mixed start to his return as head coach at Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou Evergrande.

Cannavaro replaced Luiz Felipe Scolari last November but the seven-time league champions have managed just two wins in five games since the start of the year.

Guangzhou won the Chinese Super Cup against Shanghai Shenhua last month before picking up their first win in three matches in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday with a 5-3 victory over South Korea’s Jeju United.

But draws against Thailand’s Buriram United and Cerezo Osaka of Japan as well as an opening 5-4 defeat in the Chinese Super League against cross-city rivals Guangzhou R&F have placed the Italian World Cup winner under scrutiny.

“I’m not saying there’s no pressure at Evergrande, there’s pressure at Evergrande all the time,” the former defender said after his side’s Asian Champions League win.

“But I am myself and, no matter if I’m playing for Real Madrid or at the World Cup, I’ve never felt pressure.

“Being in a football environment is where I’m most comfortable. I only feel excited and motivated when it comes to crucial, difficult, important matches.”

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The focus on Cannavaro’s record is amplified by the fact he is starting his second stint at China’s most successful club, having being sacked after six months of disappointing results in 2015.

Cannavaro rebuilt his career following his dismissal, leading Tianjin Quanjian to the Chinese second division title in 2016 and to third place in the top flight last season.

But the doubts persist about Cannavaro and with his side conceding eight goals in their last two games he has promised to pay more attention to the performance of his defenders.

“I’m a coach who admires attacking football. I want my teams to look to win,” he said.

“However, to be honest, I didn’t expect we would concede so many goals. Eight goals in two home games, that’s too much for me. It will be what we work on and focus on.

“But football is difficult and lots of things can’t be explained simply. No matter what, though, I have no doubt that we have the best defenders and we have to reduce the number of goals we concede.”