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Gamba Osaka v Guangzhou Evergrande: Visitors upbeat ahead of Japan trip

Zheng Zhi is confident about Guangzhou Evergrande’s chances of reaching the AFC Champions League final.

Evergrande hold a 2-1 lead heading into Wednesday’s semi-final return leg at Gamba Osaka.

The Chinese champions are 90 minutes away from a first final appearance since 2013, when they broke through for their maiden continental crown.

Evergrande captain Zheng is aware of the task ahead but the China international believes Luiz Felipe Scolari and Co. have what it takes to go all the way.

“In the second leg in Osaka, of course we’ll have to prepare a different set of tactics as they have an away goal,” said Zheng.

“The scoreline is neither bad nor good for us, obviously it’s not like going there 1-0 or 2-0 up, but I do believe we have gained an advantage today and this will help us make our way to the final.

“We will now have a short rest and prepare for the final stages of the Chinese Super League and the AFC Champions League semi-final second leg.”

Evergrande did not have it all their own way in the first leg in Guangzhou as Japanese visitors Gamba netted an early away goal on September 30.

A Feng Xiaoting own goal in the 12th minute gave 2008 champions Gamba a priceless away goal.

Evergrande did fight back to earn a slender advantage thanks to Huang Bowen and Zheng.

Gamba coach Kenta Hasegawa remains optimistic heading into the midweek clash at Expo ’70 Commemorative Stadium.

“In the first leg, it was good that we could score the opening goal, but we lost goals in a way that we knew we had to be alert,” Hasegawa told AFC.com.

“However, my team did not lose their control or calm when we lost those two goals, and it was a match that could have had a different result against a tough team with no real weaknesses. It’s a difficult opponent, but we have to try hard and work together to advance to the final.

“This time we are playing at home and the most important thing is the motivation of the players. The key is how well we can do in terms of motivation and desire.

“We need to believe in ourselves, our ability to play as a team, and that we are capable of winning. We have to show everything on the pitch.”

Mon 19 Oct, 2015
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