By Sportswritter Wang Haoming
GUANGZHOU, May 29 (Xinhua) -- Italian coach Marcello Lippi is facing a real challenge since he took charge of Chinese Super Leauge outfit Guangzhou Evergrande when they will battle Japanese FC Tokyo on Wednesday for a place in the quarterfinals of AFC Champions League.
Just two weeks ago, Lippi was appointed as the head coach of the Chinese champions hours after the AFC Champions League debutants secured their spot in the final 16 after a dramatic late win over Thai league champions Buriram United.
With a win and a draw in the Chinese Super League (CSL) under his reign, the real challenge for the World Cup-winning coach is looming.
"It will be my first match in the AFC Champions League. But I have abundant experience in the European Champions League, so it is nothing special for me," said Lippi, who won the UEFA Champions League with Juventus in 1996. "The match is significant because it will be my debut. But it turns petty when compared to the European champions league finale."
"FC Tokyo are a strong opponent. Their players have very good technique and are also very fast," added the 64-year old Italian.
FC Tokyo finished second in Group F after suffering a bitter loss against the K-League side Ulsan Hyundain in the final fixture two weeks ago, losing their home advantage in the first knock-out round in AFC Champions league.
But playing away may turn out to be the Japanese side's favor as they have won five of their six away matches in Japanese league.
"Tokyo are always stronger in their away matches, but we find some ways to respond to teach them a lesson at home," Lippi said.
Meanwhile, the coach of the Japanese side said they will show their own way and own character.
"The deciding moment finally comes. It is a pity we can't perform in front of our fans, but we will do our best to show our football philosophy to the world," said Popovic.
"Mr. Lippi is a World Cup winner. But this will only be our motivation. We will make no special change, just keep our style that brings us successes consistently," he added.
Guangzhou's attacking trio are expected to make trouble for Tokyo as Brazilian striker Muriqui is back from injury and to carry on the scoring responsibility with Argentine anchor Dario Conca and Brazilian center forward Cleo. The "sharp trio" combined for 12 goals in six matches in the group stage of AFC Champions league.
"Muriqui's recovery is a good news, I am not telling you the formation and lineup tomorrow, what I am sure is that we will win the game in 90 minutes," Lippi said.