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Hard road to AFC title for Guangzhou Evergrande

Updated: 2012-11-28 18:47
By Tang Zhe (China Daily)

After clinching the Chinese Super League and the Chinese FA Cup this season, Guangzhou Evergrande boss Xu Jiayin wants his team to claim the triple crown by winning the AFC Champions League title as well in 2013.

"I want to take the (AFC Champions League) championship," Xu said. "Our target is to get into the semifinals and fight for the crown season … and we certainly want to defend our championships."

However, with the 2015 Asian Cup preliminaries approaching, Evergrande, which could feature nine national players after signing Feng Renliang and possibly national goalkeeper Zeng Cheng, has to work out how to balance the club's domestic schedule with national team call-ups.

Evergrande coach Marcello Lippi has already been asked to send his leading players to the national squad, coached by Spaniard Jose Antonio Camacho, for a month to prepare for an away game against Saudi Arabia on Feb 6.

China will also play Iraq at home in March, and home-and-away games against Indonesia in October and November.

"I was frightened when I was told that my players will stay in the national team for one month because nothing like this has ever happened before. I didn't believe it could happen in any country," Lippi said. "It's funny, and I cannot accept such an arrangement.

"Our situation is we have to prepare for the AFC Champions League that starts at the end of February, but just during our most crucial time, the main players will be away … this is not reasonable.

"I don't mean that I am unwilling to send my players to the national team because every player should be proud to be a part of their national team," he said. "But I think there is no need (for the national team) to assemble one month in advance — one week should be enough."

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