Pohang displayed great courage on Wednesday as they were able to prevent Asian giants Guangzhou Evergrande from scoring in an intriguing 0-0 draw at the Tianhe Stadium.
Prior to the game internationally respected manager Luiz Felipe Scolari did his best to warn his Evergrande side against complacency.
“I’ve been telling my players that every year is more difficult than the previous year. It is my job to tell them that. So I think they are aware of how to improve themselves to face the new situation,” Scolari said.
“Time will tell. Also, I can’t deliver anything alone and I need the players to co-operate with me in order to have a good season.”
However, his words appear to have fallen on deaf ears as the defending champions looked flat throughout the 90 minutes as they failed to break down Pohang’s gutsy defense.
Guangzhou started decently and should have taken the lead after 25 minutes, but Ricardo Goulart stabbed wide from eight yards out with the goal at his mercy after the Brazilian had ghosted into the penalty area to meet a free-kick.
Goulart, who netted eight goals as Guangzhou won the AFC Champions League last year, continued to be the best outlet for the home side but again failed to find the target from a promising position inside the area five minutes before half-time.
Jackson Martinez came on as a replacement in the second half but failed to impress as he had little influence on proceedings.
Evergrande have their work cut out for them if they are going to repeat their Champions League success of last year.