Guangzhou Evergrande's hopes of winning the Asian Champions League have suffered a serious blow with veteran defender Zhang Linpeng ruled out of the rest of the competition after undergoing surgery on an injured ankle.
The 31-year-old China international sustained the injury in Guangzhou’s 3-1 loss to Vissel Kobe last week and the club said he had undergone an operation on Wednesday in Qatar that would keep him out of action for six weeks.
Zhang's loss is another blow for head coach Fabio Cannavaro, who has gone into the continental championship, which is being played in a biosecure bubble in Qatar, without Brazilian midfielder Paulinho and former China captain Zheng Zhi.
Guangzhou are currently in second Group G, which features only three teams following the withdrawal from the competition of Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim.
Third-placed Suwon Bluewings face group leaders Vissel Kobe on Friday and a two-goal win over Andres Iniesta’s team will see the South Koreans leapfrog Guangzhou and claim the runners-up spot behind the Japanese side and a place in the knockout rounds.
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