Buriram: Levir Culpi won’t underestimate the youth of Guangzhou FC as he leads his side Cerezo Osaka in their Group J clash with the Chinese team looking to secure another victory en route to qualifying for them round of 16 of the 2021 AFC Champions League.
Culpi’s side have won three of their four opening games and lead the Group J standings with 10 points to sit one point behind Kitchee with two games to go and face a team from Guangzhou who struggled in the competition so far.
The two-time AFC Champions League winners sent a young side to Buriram for this year’s competition, but Culpi, whose side beat Guangzhou 2-0 in their opener last week, don’t underestimate Liu Zhiyu’s team.
“In terms of experience, I think a young team may have difficulty playing in this kind of league, but when it comes to the quality of the players, I don’t think that has anything to do with the age, “Cerezo head coach said.
“In Brazil, Pelé took part in the World Cup when he was 17 years old. So I don’t think it will have too much of an impact on the game tomorrow.
“Our main idea for the team is to have our physical condition at the best possible level. In the four games so far we’ve had good results, so I want to finish very strong.
Only the winners of each of the 2021 AFC Champions League groups are sure to advance to the round of 16, with the remaining places in the eastern half of the draw going to the three clubs with the best second-best records.
As a result, Culpi is aware of the need to keep pushing his players until the last round of Friday’s group matches and ensure they get the top spot.
“Of course, as a team we want to finish the group stage in first place, so I am thinking about the condition of the players and the performance of the other teams,” he said. “It’s something I have to think about but I hope we can finish first and we can do well in the game tomorrow.”
Cerezo recorded a 2-0 victory in the teams’ first meeting at the start of the Group J calendar and Guangzhou coach Liu accepts that his inexperienced players face another tough challenge when they face the J again. -League.
“After four matches our players are physically and mentally under pressure, so we have to stay focused and be ourselves in the game,” he said.
“The first game was really important and I watched the tape a few times. Our opponents are very experienced and they will put a lot of pressure on us. We will start from our defense and try to make up for what we missed in the last match.
“The gap was very small in terms of score, but there is still a big difference between us and them. We have gained a lot of experience from them and we have tried a lot of tactics that we can use in the next matches.
Cerezo Osaka (JPN) vs. Guangzhou FC (CHN)
Location: Buriram Stadium, Buriram
Kick-off: 5:00 p.m. (UTC + 7)
Who will win?
Cerezo Osaka (JPN)
Canton FC (CHN)
* The survey ends at 6:00 p.m. (UTC + 8) on July 6.