As far as expectations for the season go, ours at Guangzhou Evergrande couldn’t be higher. I’m writing this after 2 games in and 2 tests that have been passed with great aplomb. They began the season with a 2-1 win over Tianjin Teda in the Super Cup final which signalled a return to action for Brazilian marksman Cleo. He was sorely missed at the tail end of last season and he showed his quality with a double that secured the first showpiece of 2012.
The match against Jeonbuk Motors in our first foray in the Asian Champions League is quite another story. The team from Jeonju were finalists in last years competition and went into the contest as favourites playing on their home ground but the performance Evergrande produced was one of the most ruthless displays of finishing you are likely to see. Most teams have one player in their eleven who can turn a game on it’s head, Guangzhou have four- Cleo, Muriqui, Conca and Gao Lin. The four of them combined to devastating effect time and time again against the Korean champions and three of them got their names on the scoresheet- Conca with two exceptional long-range efforts.
It seems like there are riches on and off the pitch these days and there are many reasons to be optimistic about retaining the Chinese Super League and making a great impact in Asia. That’s not to say other teams will make it easy for us though. Guoan were extremely tough opponents last year and will be there or thereabouts again and Shenhua have rebuilt themselves with formidable striking options. I’m also immensely looking forward to the Guangzhou derby against promoted side Guangzhou R & F, it should be a season to remember! Let’s bring it on!