Lippi wary of first leg against Kashiwa

Guangzhou Evergrande coach Marcello Lippi has targeted Wednesday's first leg of their Asian Champions League semi-final with Kashiwa Reysol as the crucial game in the tie.

Football News: Marcello Lippi

Lippi, who guided Italy to World Cup success, has singled out Brazilian striker Cleo, who joined Reysol on a season-long loan from the Chinese side at the start of the campaign.

"I feel there is a special connection with Kashiwa due to Cleo and I am looking forward to the game," Lippi told the Asian Football Confederation website.

"All 11 of Kashiwa's starting players are very good, while they also have a strong squad, so we need to take care of every player."

"They have a strong away record but I am not sure why, maybe this is due to luck."

Kashiwa coach Nelsinho Baptista is not too concerned by the absence of suspended captain Hidekazu Otani following his yellow card in the second leg of the quarter-final triumph over Saudi Arabian side Al Shabab.

Nelsinho said: "Our captain is suspended, but there is nothing we can do. We have all the players ready and we have great back-ups so there is nothing to worry about.

"We need to concentrate during the match and as long as Kashiwa do our best we believe we will win. We need to show our power on the pitch, and if we can show our rhythm, we can make it to the next stage."

Midfielder Ryoichi Kurisawa added: "We played in the AFC Champions League last year so we were prepared for it to be tough and we are used to it."

In the other semi-final FC Seoul coach Choi Yong-soo already has one eye on the second leg in Iran ahead of the home fixture with Esteghlal.

Choi said: "This is an historic appearance for FC Seoul in semi-final.

"Even ahead of the first game we have to think about what will be a very difficult second leg away from home.

"We will do our best to try and score more than one goal but to be honest, 1-0 is a better result at home in a two-legged game than 2-1. Basically, we want to keep a clean sheet."

Former Celtic and Eintracht Frankfurt defender Cha Du-ri played for his national team in the 2002 World Cup and is used to big matches.

"We know that every time we play an Iranian team that it is going to be a tough game," he said.

"It is a real honour to play in the late stages of this competition and we are well prepared for this game and determined to show what we can do."

While Seoul hope to keep a clean sheet, visiting coach Amir Ghalenoei has targeted an away goal as his side look to add to the Asian Club Championship titles they won in 1970 and 1991.

"This semi-final has two halves and the first is in Seoul and the second is in Tehran and we have to have a separate plan for each one," said Ghalenoei.

"In this away match our target is to score and our focus at home in Tehran will be not to concede."

Ghalenoei hopes his plan to stop Seoul's midfield from linking with their attack will succeed, having singled out captain Ha Dae-sung, Montenegrin international striker Dejan Damjanovic and Colombia's Mauricio Molina as the home side's danger men.

"Our plan is to isolate the midfield from the attack," added Ghalenoei.

"We know that Seoul are fast down the wings and they target their striker and we will do our best to combat that."



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