Beijing Guoan head coach Aleksandar Stanojevic is tipping former champions Pohang Steelers as the one to beat in the AFC Champions League.
Stanojevic’s side picked up a point against the Korea Republic side on their travels on matchday one with a scoreless draw before defeating J.League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima to sit with four points after their opening two matches in Group G.
But despite Pohang’s problematic start – they also drew with Bunyodkor to have two points from two games – the former Partizan Belgrade coach believes the experience and quality of the Korean side will tell in the coming weeks.
“I’m satisfied with the start in these two matches because they were difficult,” said the 39-year-old, who replaced Jaime Pacheco.
“In Korea we got a point against a team that we have lost to in the past, but now we have had a good result against Pohang.
“We played a very disciplined game, even though we didn’t attack too much. I was very satisfied.
“At home against Sanfrecce Hiroshima we played very well and had many opportunities.
“It’s very satisfying to have four points from our first two matches, but I think Pohang is the favourite in our group, they are the best team in the group.
“They have a lot of experience, they were champions a few years ago and Korean teams play with good discipline and play good football. I think they have a big chance.
“Bunyodkor reached the semi-finals last year but Pohang, for me, are favourites even though they haven’t started well. They can do very well I think.”
Stanojevic joined Beijing after a season with Dalian Aerbin, who he steered to fifth in the Chinese Super League after two years at Partizan that yielded back-to-back Serbian titles and a berth in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League.
And the highly rated coach has already had an impact at Beijing, even if money has been tight at the capital club compared to many other Chinese Super League sides.
In addition to picking up four points in their first two games in the AFC Champions League, Stanojevic’s team won their opening two matches in the new Chinese Super League campaign.
“The team is the same as last year; I changed only a few things on the tactical side,” he said.
“We do a lot more video analysis and we know what we need to do in every moment of the game. We didn’t have the money to bring in many new players.
“We’ve started well but you never know in football because you have many matches, especially in the next period where we are playing on a Wednesday and then again on a Saturday. We shall see.”
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