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Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Pragmatic Scolari taking nothing for granted in Sydney

Reuters , Tuesday 1 Mar 2016
Head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari of Guangzhou Evergrande gestures during AFC Champions League Group H match in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China, February 24, 2016 (Reuters)
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Guangzhou Evergrande may be one of the biggest spending clubs in the world but coach Luis Felipe Scolari scoffed at the idea they should be expected to waltz into the knockout stages of the Asian Champions League.

The Chinese champions, who splashed out $45 million on Colombian striker Jackson Martinez last month, on Wednesday meet Sydney FC, who are obliged to stay under a salary cap of around $3 million a season for their entire squad.

World Cup-winning coach Scolari, whose squad also includes Brazil internationals Paulinho and Ricardo Goulart, bristled when asked whether it remained a fair contest despite the clear disparity in finances.

"We will discover the difference between the two teams after we play the match and see the result," Scolari, shaking his head, told reporters at the Sydney Football Ground.

"There are no easy matches in the group stage of the Asian Champions League, we are at the start of the season and after our first match we are improving physically and mentally.

"Only two teams will go through so we will do our best to get a good result."

Chinese champions for the last five years, Guangzhou won their second ACL title in three years by beating Dubai's Al-Ahli over two legs last November.

They got their 2016 campaign underway with a 0-0 draw at home to South Korea's Pohang Steelers last week with Martinez coming under fire in the Chinese media for a lacklustre display.

With the Chinese Super League not kicking off until next weekend, however, Scolari said this was a time of year for remaining resolutely pragmatic.

"Our main objective is to qualify from the group stage," the Brazilian added.

"This (is) only our second match and we got a draw in the first match. We are away from home and although we have not come here for a draw, a point would not be the worst result for us."

In stark contrast to Scolari, Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold was more than happy to talk about the different resources available to the two men, and claim underdog status.

"What they paid for Martinez would fund the whole league and the whole code in this country. They flew in on two private jets, we fly economy," said the Australian, whose side lost their ACL opener 2-0 to Urawa Red Diamonds in Japan last week.

"They're attracting big players and spending a lot of money but we will not be intimidated by them.

"They've got three very good foreigners, but the rest are Chinese players and we've shown at national level that we're very good against the Chinese national team.

"Anything's possible."

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