Guangzhou: Lekhwiya coach Eric Gerets admitted Guangzhou Evergrande deserved to win yesterday’s AFC Champions League quarter-final first leg.
The majority of the 41,000 crowd appeared to be on course to be sent home frustrated as Marcello Lippi’s Guangzhou struggled to turn dominant possession into a breakthrough until Argentinean playmaker Dario Conca netted his fourth goal of the campaign from the penalty spot with 18 minutes remaining.
And with Brazilian striker Elkeson (Elkeson de Oliveira Cardoso) marking his AFC Champions League debut with an accomplished finish three minutes later, Qatar Stars League (QSL) runners-up Lekhwiya face an uphill task in next month’s second leg in Doha.
“The last match in the AFC Champions League was a few months ago, but right now we are finding ourselves again and our preparation is not finished. This is not the reason we lost as you have to be a sportsman and admit that the opponent was stronger than my team,” said Gerets with Lekhwiya yet to fully begin their new domestic campaign.
“We are still alive, but it will be difficult. We still fought until the last second, but I think the best team won,” he explained.
He added: “Even if we had two or three months to prepare in our league and we played the same team again it would still be tough as they are a good team. Now we can only try in a couple of weeks as we don’t have any pressure. Marcello’s side showed why they are the best in China so they are big favourites to go through, but I think we will see another Lekhwiya in a few weeks.
“We have nothing to lose and we will look to attack and try to create pressure from the first second and try and score a goal in the first half to make sure we have a chance in second half. It will be tough, but we will try our best.”
Guangzhou are top of the Chinese Super League, while Lekhwiya have only three games in the pre-season Sheikh Jassim Cup last month under their belts.
“We did our best. They are in the middle of their championship and in Qatar the championship has not started so in the game there was a higher rhythm from the Chinese team than my team. We had good moments, but when you lose and you lose 2-0 it will be difficult,” said Gerets.
“We did try and control the game, but in the first half we lost the ball too many times. We had periods in the second half were we kept the ball, but in the first half we didn’t really control the ball,” he added. AGENCIES