Upon qualifying for the knock-out stages of the AFC Champions League, coach Mano Menezes has attributed much of Shandong Luneng’s recent success to lessons learnt in their previous loss to FC Seoul.
Diego Tardelli scored the only goal of the game as Shandong secured their progression to the last 16 of the AFC Champions League with a 1-0 win over Japan’s Sanfrecce Hiroshima in Group F on Wednesday.
Menezes believes his team’s 1-4 pasting at the hands of FC Seoul earlier in the group stages was a turning point in their campaign as that game prompted them to work harder on solidifying things at the back.
“We have had our problems in some ACL games this year, for example, the home game with Seoul. But we should always be able to learn from these losses,” Menezes explained.
“Now we are back to where we were at the beginning of the season, with a solid defence. We have only conceded one goal in four games.
“Today we played a strong opponent, so tried to keep the possession after the goal. We value our qualification very much after facing such a strong team.”
Having been eliminated from the competition after their loss to Shandong, Sanfrecce manager Hajime Moriyasu was visibly disappointed, however he insisted that he still has a quality group of players.
“We had been hoping to be resilient and focus on our defence, but they managed to score through a set-piece,” said Moriyasu.
“Today the home fans supported Shandong tremendously. The intensity of the game was also a true reflection of two sides’ real quality; it was a pity for us that we couldn’t win.
“This has been my third time coaching in the ACL, but unfortunately I haven’t qualified from the group stage so far.”