—GUANGZHOU—Following his side’s 4-2 win over Melbourne Victory on Wednesday night, Guangzhou Evergrande forward Muriqui revealed that a calf problem forced his half-time exit from the encounter.
Last season’s top-scorer and MVP of the Asian Champions League, the Brazilian winger was below par in an opening forty-five minutes that saw Evergrande fall two goals behind. At the break, he was replaced by 20-year-old Champions League debutante Liao Lisheng, much to the surprise of the 40,000 crowd.
Post-match, though, Muriqui spoke with Wild East Football and revealed the reason behind his second half absence.
“I’ve had a calf problem for about 10 days and today I was feeling it during the game,” he commented. “At half-time, I asked the coach to take me off because I didn’t want to hurt the team. Thankfully, Liao came on and did well so we were able to get the victory.
“It was an important game. We fell behind but had the strength to turn it around. It was an important result for us to start the season.”
Speaking of his side’s chances of success in this year’s competition, Muriqui was realistic about the challenges ahead, in spite of new teammate Alessandro Diamanti’s sparkling Tianhe debut.
“Our chances are the same [as before the game], we’ll fight with the other teams for the title,” he added. “We know that this year it will be more difficult than last year, but we’ll try our best to be champions once more.”
The Brazilian will now have time to recover full fitness, with national team duty meaning the side now take a 10-day break ahead of their CSL opener with Henan Construction on 8 March.
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