Scolari relishing AFC Champions League return

Guangzhou Evergrande manager Luis Felipe Scolari is looking forward to making his return to the AFC Champions League next week when the Chinese giants take on Japan's Kashiwa Reysol in the first leg of their quarter-final.

Scolari is no stranger to the premier club competition in Asia, dating back as far as 2009, when the World Cup winner guided Uzbekistan's Bunyodkor to the last eight, where they lost a thrilling tie against eventual winners Pohang Steelers 5-4.

The following year, the 66-year-old took the Tashkent side to the last 16, before returning to his homeland, where he had spells in charge of Palmeiras, Gremio and the Brazil national team.

After leaving Gremio in May 2015, the Brazilian was appointed in June as Fabio Cannavaro's replacement at the Chinese Super League champions.

"The last time I fought on this stage was in 2010, but now the strangeness and equally the familiarity is coming back to me following my previous experience with Bunyodkor," the veteran coach told the official AFC website.

"I am excited to be back with a team like Guangzhou who are a great team who have been the winner of the AFC Champions League during their history. 

"Guangzhou have a strong squad full of top players. After the first month of working and communicating with the team and the players as well as the staff, I am confident we can win many games and go far in this competition.

"They have top level experienced players working together, who have a thirst for honour with strong self-confidence, therefore, I have no doubt they can produce wonderful performances."

Guangzhou are regarded by many as one of the favourites to lift the title this season, the CSL side made some high-profile signings to complement they strong core of the squad that remains from the victorious 2013 campaign.

The 2013 AFC Player of the Year Zheng Zhi, defender Zhang Linpeng and striker Gao Lin remain at the club, while the signings of current ACL leading scorer Ricardo Goulart and Brazil international Paulinho bound to increase the competition for places at the club.

"Goulart's talent and performance is obvious for everyone to see and he is very important to the team, but don't forget there are 11 players on a team and everyone in this team is outstanding so we need to make sure everyone is performing well to be successful," added Scolari.

"Kashiwa Reysol are not a weak side and we must pay 10 percent attention and give 100 percent effort against them as they deserve to be at this stage in the competition."

"But we must also give 100% against whatever team we need to face in any competition and at whichever stage.

"Guangzhou is a wonderful team and we just have to see what happens with the results in the games to see what type of effect I will have as the new coach of Guangzhou."

Guangzhou travels to Chiba for the first leg of the clash against Kashiwa on August 25, before hosting the return leg at the Sport Center Stadium three weeks later.