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Conca says Guangzhou could be a world-beater

Updated: 2013-12-13 07:26
By Agence France-Presse ( China Daily)

Argentine midfielder pumped heading into Morocco tourney

Midfielder Dario Conca insists Marcello Lippi's Guangzhou Evergrande has the confidence to win the Club World Cup as he aims to leave the team on a high.

The departing Argentine inspired Guangzhou to victory in Asia's Champions League and he believes the club can go one better at the intercontinental tournament in Morocco, which started on Wednesday.

The Asian and Chinese title-holder plays Egypt's Al Ahly in Agadir on Saturday with the winner facing the daunting task of a semifinal against European powerhouse Bayern Munich.

"The Club World Cup will be a hard test for us," said Conca, who is making his final appearance for Guangzhou before returning to Brazil's Fluminense.

"We will meet the African champion and if we make it through, awaiting us are the likes of Bayern Munich and (Brazil's) Atletico Mineiro.

"It requires us to give more energy and passion.

"No one likes losing games. We are looking to become the world champion and we have the confidence needed to win it heading into the competition."

Conca became one of the world's highest-,paid players when he joined Guangzhou in 2011, and he proved his worth by helping it break a 23-year Asian title drought for Chinese teams last month.

Guangzhou also won its third Super League title in a row, by a yawning 18 points, and Conca signed off in style with a goal in his Chinese swansong on Saturday.

Conca says Guangzhou could be a world-beater

But it was in a losing cause as Guangzhou lost the Chinese FA Cup final 3-2 on aggregate to Guizhou Renhe, missing out on an unprecedented domestic and Asian treble.

Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola's Bayern, the European champion, is on a similar path to Guangzhou in the Bundesliga, where it is unbeaten in 40 matches.

Despite Guangzhou's FA Cup final defeat, Conca was given an emotional ovation by fans and he cried and kissed the pitch before leaving the field on Saturday.

He admitted he hadn't expected to be quite so successful with Guangzhou, where he has worked under World Cup-winning coach Lippi since last season.

"To be honest, I didn't expect to achieve so much with Guangzhou," Conca said.

"Upon my arrival, the club told me they were hoping I would help the team win the Asian title within five years.

" I am happy that we made it in less than three years.

"We were all excited to achieve this. For all of us, winning the Asian championship is special because it means we have qualified for the Club World Cup.

"My family will fly to Morocco with me for the Club World Cup and we will head to Brazil from there.

"I am happy to return to Fluminense but I thank Guangzhou and my stay in China will always be a fond memory to cherish."

(China Daily 12/13/2013 page23)