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Fabio prioritizes new faces after seven-year hitch

China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-14 10:13
Guangzhou Evergrande coach Fabio Cannavaro salutes the fans after his team's 5-1 home win over Tianjin Teda on the final day of the Chinese Super League season on Sunday. [Photo/VCG]

Coach Cannavaro eyes overhaul as Guangzhou's long CSL reign ends

SHANGHAI - Legendary Italian coach Fabio Cannavaro said on Monday he wants to sign "a few new faces" after Guangzhou Evergrande's seven-year reign as Chinese Super League (CSL) champion came crashing to a halt.

The former world player of the year's side thrashed Tianjin Teda 5-1 on the final day of the season on Sunday to make it 82 goals for the campaign - a CSL record.

But it had already surrendered its league crown to Shanghai SIPG, which sealed its first CSL triumph last Wednesday.

Evergrande finished second, five points behind SIPG, and Cannavaro will be under pressure from the start of next season to regain the title.

The 45-year-old former defender, who took over this season from Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari, said: "Our boss will definitely not be happy about the loss (of the title).

"I want to talk to him. I still hope to bring a few new faces in and let the passion return to the team," he told Chinese media.

Saddled with an aging squad and poor recruitment during the offseason, Evergrande's slow start to its title defense put Cannavaro under increasing pressure.

But when the season took a break for the World Cup in June-July, the club re-signed Brazilian international midfielder Paulinho from Barcelona, initially on loan.

It also sealed a loan move for another Brazilian, attacking midfielder Anderson Talisca, from Benfica.

The 24-year-old made a big impact, notching 16 goals in 18 league games, and his move was made permanent, even though Evergrande had previously pledged to field an all-Chinese team by 2020.

Evergrande belatedly emerged as the main threat to SIPG, which boasts expensive Brazilians Hulk and Oscar, but lost 5-4 at home to the Shanghai side earlier this month in what was effectively the title-decider.

'Dream shattered'

"For the first time (in eight years) the team didn't win the championship, and it's with me (as coach)," said a rueful Cannavaro, who captained Italy to World Cup glory in 2006.

"To be honest, it is not very easy to take over a team from two top coaches," he added, referring to Scolari and the Italian Marcello Lippi, now coach of China.

Cannavaro had an ill-fated seven-month spell in charge of Evergrande in 2014-15 and there were suggestions prior to the World Cup break that he could get the chop again.

But his position appears safe for now due to Evergrande's vast improvement in the second half of the season.

There is also some leeway because of the dearth of young talent in Cannavaro's squad. The average age of Evergrande's starting XI in the crunch game against SIPG was almost 31, while Vitor Pereira's Shanghai team's was nearer 27.

Monday's edition of Guangzhou Daily said the "dream" of an eighth CSL crown had been "shattered".

But in a sympathetic appraisal the newspaper added that this was "a result that most people expected".

Agence France - presse


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