Guangzhou were beaten 2-1 by Kashima Antlers in their AFC Champions League match on Tuesday, and they will now have to wait for two weeks before they have another chance to confirm their place in the knockout phase.
Yasushi Endo gave Kashima a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute from the penalty spot. Elkeson found the back of the net in the 75th minute to level matters for Guangzhou, but just as the game was on the verge of finishing as a draw, substitute Hiroyuki Takasaki gave the fans at the Kashima Soccer Stadium a reason to celebrate as he headed in the winner three minutes into stoppage time.
With their perfect record a thing of the past, Cannavaro pointed out that the penalty his side gave away in the first half was the turning point of the match.
"Today we had to come from behind after we gave away the lead to our opponents on a penalty in the first half, and that made the game difficult," he told the South China Morning Post.
"But I still believe in our players and hope they can keep calm and get better. We can improve the situation by making more effort, and our team is developing every day. We lost today but I am hoping that we can still get a good result in the end."
Cannavaro also admitted that Kashima took advantage of the fact that his side let their guard down towards the final moments of the match.
"It was a lack of concentration," he said. "A team who gets used to winning tends to loosen up their defence sometimes, and it's important to prepare well going into the game. By doing so, we can fix our problems in defence, too."