Sports / China

Lippi off to winning start at Evergrande

By Qiu Quanlin in Guangzhou (China Daily) Updated: 2012-05-22 07:50

Lippi off to winning start at Evergrande

Wearing a Western-style suit on a sweltering night, Marcello Lippi walked onto the field and waved to the Guangzhou Evergrande supporters after a typical Italian-style 1-0 win against Qingdao Jonoon on Sunday.

"It was the first time for me to thank the supporters in such a way. They have really impressed me and I wanted to thank them for their support," said Lippi.

Two hours before the game, Guangzhou was hit by a storm, adding another degree of difficulty for the Italian coach on his debut in the Chinese Super League after signing a 10 million euro ($12.8 million) contract with Guangzhou Evergrande last week.

The 64-year-old Italian said wearing the suit on a hot day was also a way to thank the fans.

"I was sweltering during the game. But now I am happy with the result. You know that it was very difficult to win this first game," Lippi said.

Lippi off to winning start at Evergrande

Lippi took over the managerial reigns of the defending CSL champion last week after South Korean coach Lee Jang-soo had led the team to the round-of-16 of the AFC Champions League. "I don't care about the score, no matter if it is 1-0 or 3-0. The most important thing is that we won the game and my players displayed improving form tonight.

"I have lost most debut games during my career - with Juventus, Inter Milan and the Italian national team. So I was a little bit afraid about the first match actually," he said.

"I am quite happy with the win tonight. It is always not easy to win a game, no matter where the (opposition) team is in the standings - even if it is on the bottom of the table. The win has given me confidence for the matches ahead."

Despite a relatively defensive lineup, Lippi made few changes to the starting XI for the game against Qingdao.

After a scoreless first half, Gao Lin's broke the deadlock in the 69th minute when he headed in a superb cross from defender Sun Xiang.

"The opponent also played defensively. It was very difficult for us to break the defensive line and the field was so wet after the big rain," Lippi said.

He said he would make changes to the team only when all the players were at full fitness.

"Some key players, including Muriqui, Jiang Ning and Rong Hao, are injured. I have noticed that many top players are tired after playing too regularly over the past few months," he said. "I have been here with the team for three days, but the team has played 17 matches in the past three months," said Lippi.

The Guangzhou side will have about 20 days of rest after a domestic league match against Shandong Luneng on Friday and its knockout match with FC Tokyo in the AFC Champions League on May 30.

"The players need some time to adjust to new positions and conditions," Lippi said.

Sun said the players were trying to adapt to Lippi's tactics.

"He focuses more on defense, stressing a good link between the defensive and attacking lines. We will play in accordance with his concept," Sun said.

Lippi off to winning start at Evergrande

Marcello Lippi, newly-appointed head coach of Guangzhou Evergrande reacts during the team's 1-0 win against Qingdao Jonoon in Guangzhou, May 20, 2012. [Photo/Xinhua] 

Peng Weiguo, assistant coach of the China Under-22 team, said Lippi needed more time to get accustomed to the environment in Guangzhou.

"Players and supporters should have confidence in him, given that his debut in the CSL happened only three days after taking up his position with the team," Peng said.

Peng, along with the club's second-tier players, were in the stands at the Tianhe Stadium on Sunday.

"Lippi's rich coaching experience was displayed during the match," said Peng, who was replaced by Lee as head coach of Evergrande in March 2010 and is expected to become coach of the club's second-tier team.


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