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Pep eager to add Club World Cup to his trophy list

Updated: 2013-12-17 07:36
By Agence France-Presse in Agadir, Morocco ( China Daily)

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola says he has no intention of taking the Club World Cup lightly as his European champion prepares to face China's Guangzhou Evergrande in the semifinals on Tuesday.

Guardiola has already enjoyed a glittering coaching career and is the only boss to have already won this competition twice, with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011.

And even though his team comes into the competition as the overwhelming favorite, the Catalan is not taking anything for granted.

"This tournament is very important, very prestigious. It's not easy to qualify for it, or win it," he said.

"There are only two matches, the semifinal and the final, and simply put, we have to win them.

"You don't have the good fortune to take part in this competition very often in your life as a professional footballer and I'd like to express my gratitude to the team and (predecessor) Juup Heynckes because thanks to them I am here today."

Although he has won the Champions League twice, the Spanish title three times and even managed a treble including the Spanish Cup in his first season as a coach, Guardiola will not be the senior figure on the sidelines on Tuesday.

Opposite him will be Italian 2006 World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi, who reappeared in China last year after a two-year hiatus following his second - and unsuccessful - spell in charge of the Azzurri.

For all Guardiola has won, he cannot yet match Lippi, who led Juventus to the 1996 Champions League crown and five Serie A titles before doing the league and cup double with Guangzhou in his first season, with a league and Asian Champions League double in 2013.

Yet Lippi himself has been impressed with the younger coach's career so far.

"Guardiola is an intelligent and capable person. We've seen what he's done with Barcelona and Bayern; he's changed teams but kept on winning," said the 65-year-old.

"He's brought with him his philosophy of play, slowly but with assurance."

Lippi knows his team, the first Chinese participant in the competition, has little chance of upsetting the odds, even suggesting it only has a one percent possibility.

"We're going to play against one of the best teams in the world. When you play a match against a team like this, out of 100 matches you lose 99 but you can win one and I hope that will be the next one.

"You never know."

If Bayern does win the tournament it would be its fifth trophy of the year, having won the treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup back in May and then added the European Super Cup in August.

However, it lost out to Borussia Dortmund in the German Supercup so will not be able to match the achievements of Guardiola's Barcelona squad in 2009.

Even so, Bayern's French winger Franck Ribery, who is on the three-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or, alongside the holders of the trophy the last five years in Lionel Messi (2009-2012) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2008), wants to finish the calendar year on a positive note.

"It's been a good year for everyone at Bayern. Now we've got two matches left before going on holiday," said Ribery, referring to the German League winter break.

"We're here to play well, be serious and win the championship trophy."

The winners will face either Atletico Mineiro of Brazil or host Raja Casablanca in Saturday's final.

(China Daily 12/17/2013 page23)