Win not enough to keep lee
Updated: 2012-05-17 08:08
Italian coach Marcello Lippi is expected to replace South Korean Lee Jang-soo at Evergrande. Filippo Monteforte / AFP
Lee Jang-soo, head coach of Guangzhou Evergrande, is set to be replaced by Italian coach Marcello Lippi and a press conference will be held by the club on Thursday to announce Lee's departure.
The move comes two days after the club won its final AFC Champions League group match against Buriram United in Thailand and gained a ticket to the knockout stage.
Guangzhou defender Zhang Linpeng revealed on his micro blog Lee was going to leave the club.
"We have been together for about two years. We have had many champions and created many records. You are the best coach. It is a big loss for the club to lose you," Zhang said.
Lee, who replaced Peng Weiguo as head coach at the club two years ago, was reportedly bidding farewell to the players during the flight back from Thailand.
"All good things must come to an end. I can accept everything," Lee told a local reporter.
Penalty wipes out penalty
Tuesday's victory could not save Lee's job, but it gave new life to Dario Conca.
Conca scored a stoppage time penalty to push the team into the knockout stage after his nine-match ban was lifted by the club.
"His penalty played a decisive role in helping the team move further in the AFC competition. Most importantly, his play during the whole game explained why the club has lifted the ban on him," said Lee.
Conca was not expected to play in the game against Buriram, given that the striker had received the hefty ban, together with a fine of 1 million yuan ($158,000), from the club for publicly criticizing the South Korean coach following a 3-1 loss against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on May 1.
"We had to give him penalties for his misconduct over the past two weeks," said Lee.
"But we also had to include him on the (Champions League) roster as he is a crucial part of the team, especially for such an important game."
Sources close to the club said the ban had not included matches in the AFC Champions League and Lee said he asked for it to be totally lifted on Tuesday morning.
"I have treated Conca, always, as an important part of the team. The club has agreed with the (total) lifting of the ban. Today he played and he will also play in the following domestic league matches," Lee said after the match.
The 2-1 win against Buriram on Tuesday saw Guangzhou finish top of Group H.
To prepare for Tuesday's match, key players and a coaching team, which included Lee, flew to Thailand two days after the team's 2-1 win at home over Dalian Aerbin in the domestic league on May 6.
"We are now representing the whole of China, not just Guangzhou. So we had to work hard and I'm extremely happy to have been able to grab this win against Buriram United," Lee said.
"I have said before that this group is quite tough because all of the teams have been so competitive, so we are thankful for all the fans and supporters back in China and those here in Thailand.
"Starting from this moment, we are beginning a new adventure."
- Qiu Quanlin
(China Daily 05/17/2012 page22)