Chinese Super League

Shanghai SIPG ‘can’t get carried away’ despite perfect start, says China midfielder Cai Huikang

Andre Villas-Boas’ Chinese Super League side have won all six games this year after beating Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds in the AFC Champions League this week

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 3:50pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 8:48pm

Shanghai SIPG “can’t get carried away” despite Andre Villas-Boas’ side extending their perfect start to the year with a 3-2 win over Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds in the AFC Champions League this week, according to China midfielder Cai Huikang.

Brazilian duo Elkeson and Hulk along with Chinese defender Shi Ke scored on Wednesday at Shanghai Stadium as SIPG maintained their 100% record in group F having also won both games at the start of the new Super League campaign.

SIPG, though, will not return to action until the start of April’s as Asia’s Fifa World Cup qualifiers take centre stage, with Villas-Boas’ side three points clear at the top of their group in the AFC Champions League and in a three-way tie at the top of the Super League.

“Our confidence will be boosted by a lot after consecutive wins, but we can’t get carried away,” said 27-year-old Cai, who has spent his entire career with SIPG and has been named in China’s squad for this month’s qualifiers against South Korea and Iran.

Watch: Shanghai SIPG 3 Urawa Red Diamonds 2 highlights

“To be honest, I didn’t think it would be so easy for us. People kept say that this was a group of death, but now the results proved everything.”

SIPG, who had already been Thailand’s Sukhothai, South Korea’s FC Seoul and Australia’s Western Sydney Wanderers in the AFC Champions League this season, were 3-0 up against Urawa after just 52 minutes as Hulk netted his fourth goal in six games and Elkeson his sixth only to allow the J.League side back into the contest inside the final 20 minutes.

“We should say that this is a very interesting game, it made us very excited. They are a very strong team and we’d really prepared well before the game. We’ve scored three goals and we could have scored more,” said Villas-Boas after seeing Urawa hit back through a 73rd-minute penalty from Rafael Silva and a 84th-minute effort from Wataru Endo before the visitors had Shinzo Koroki sent off in the last minute.

“Before they scored the penalty we’d had chances to make it 4-0, but we didn’t grab the chances.

“When it was 3-1, the game started to be more open. They’ve got many high quality attacking players as well and once the game became open up, they created many chances and we started to retreat, but our players still had good execution.

“Even though we conceded two goals, we can’t judge the performance of our defenders by that. Our defence was quite solid during this game and they didn’t have decent chances except the penalty and the goal from the corner.”

Fellow Super League side Jiangsu Suning also top their AFC Champions League group with a perfect record after three games after edging out Gamba Osaka 1-0 in Japan thanks to a first half strike from Brazilian Ramires also on Wednesday.

Last season’s domestic runners-up have yet to win a game in the Super League this season and sit second from bottom of the table, but Choi Yong-soo’s side have had no such troubles in the AFC Champions League with wins over South Korea’s Jeju United and Australia’s Adelaide United.

Watch: Gamba Osaka 0 Jiangsu Suning 1 highlights

“We’ve never got through the group stage before, so after this win we’re one step closer to our objective, but we are still far from our best of us and we can’t relax now,”said Jiangsu’s South Korean coach Choi Yong-soo.

“We played five games in less than 20 days, so in the next few days the players can take a rest and hopefully some injured players can recover during this break.”

“Grasping the opportunities in front of the goal isn’t his [Ramires] strongest ability, but he has his own advantages and that helps a lot when we play against the strong teams in the AFC Champions League.”

Two-time AFC Champions League winners Guangzhou Evergrande also find themselves at the top of their group after three games, although Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side were denied a second win of the campaign on Tuesday as Yu Kobayashi struck a stoppage time penalty for Kawasaki Frontale to earn the J.League side a 1-1 draw in southern China.

Watch: Guangzhou Evergrande 1 Kawasaki Frontale 1 highlights

The defending Super League champions are tied at the top of group G alongside South Korea’s Suwon Samsung Bluewings, who beat Hong Kong champions Eastern 1-0 this week, with five points from three games.

“Football is like that, if you can’t take your chances then you’ll pay the price. Tonight we paid the price for our mistakes,” said Scolari.

“Normally we should have won by two or three goals. It was a pity we missed the best chance to get through the group stage ahead of time. We’ve created a lot of chances, double of the chances created by Kawasaki Frontale, but it is a pity we couldn’t turn them into goals.”