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Sousa sure Quanjian can ace Asian debut

China Daily | Updated: 2018-02-13 15:16

Tianjin Quanjian has high hopes for its maiden AFC Champions League (ACL) campaign, which kicks off this week.

New Quanjian coach Paulo Sousa was in bullish mood ahead of Tuesday's Group E opener against Hong Kong's Kitchee and expects his squad to make the knockout stages.

"Quanjian's ACL appearance is a huge boost for Chinese soccer clubs, and we are confident we can defeat every opponent in the following games," said the Portuguese coach, who won Europe's Champions League as a player with Juventus in 1996 and Borussia Dortmund in 1997.

Quanjian secured its ACL ticket last month by defeating Filipino side Ceres Negros 2-0 in a playoff, having finished third in the Chinese Super League.

Quanjian will compete in Group E alongside Kitchee, two-time champion Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of South Korea and Japanese champion Kashiwa Reysol.

Like Quanjian, Kitchee is making its debut in the competition, and is only the second team from Hong Kong to appear in the ACL.

Sousa, though, is not taking the little club lightly.

"I have been in soccer for over 30 years, and I know not a single match is easy to win. No team is weak, and they all deserve our respect. We have to be aggressive in all games," he said.

Kitchee will hope for some magic from veteran Uruguay international Diego Forlan.

However, Forlan will have his work cut out beating Quanjian goalkeeper Zhang Lu, who gave up just 33 goals in the CSL last term.

Xinhua

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