Villas-Boas: Shanghai SIPG Fully Fit for Guangzhou Evergrande Clash

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Andre Villas-Boas has said the Guangzhou Evergrande game is ‘an opportunity’ for his side.

Shanghai SIPG manager Andre Villas-Boas has said his squad are fully fit as they prepare to face six-time Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou Evergrande on Saturday.

SIPG aim to continue a perfect start after winning both their league opening games before the international break and notching up four victories in the Asian Champions League.

“It’s not the best timing for club coaches to prepare their teams because of the international match days,” Villas-Boas said.

“Usually coaches prefer to have more time working on big occasion matches like the one tomorrow.

“But the good news is that our international players haven’t had any injuries. The rest of the team have trained for two weeks in our own complex and are in good shape.

“I think we are prepared for tomorrow.”

SIPG had Wu Lei, Yan Junling, Yu Hai and Cai Huikang in Marcello Lippi’s China squad for the World Cup qualifying matches against South Korea and Iran.

Guangzhou, meanwhile, had a seven-strong contingent as Lippi continues to lean heavily on his former club.

Shanghai have shown they will pose a serious threat to champions Guangzhou, who go into Saturday’s game without Luiz Felipe Scolari on the bench.

The coach was given a one-game ban for criticising the decision to double a suspension handed to captain Zheng Zhi’s from one game to two.

Guangzhou lost their most recent CSL game against Shandong Luneng, with Zheng serving the first game of his ban, having kicked off the season with a win over Beijing Guoan.

Defeat against SIPG would leave them six points adrift in the early standings, but Villas-Boas said: “I know our opponent is strong and it will be a very difficult game for us.

“Evergrande have built their dominance in Chinese football and even in Asian football, and I hope in the future we can reach our target too. But for now I hope we can have a good match.

“If we win again they will have had two defeats in a row. I know it is going to be extremely difficult but it is also an opportunity for us.

“But keeping in mind that it is only the third round [of matches], we shouldn’t over-focus on the importance of the game.”

Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch

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