The last-round AFC group match will be a crucial one for Evergrande head coach Lee Jang-soo.[China Daily]
Defending Chinese Super League champion Guangzhou Evergrande has been rocked by the internal punishment it meted out to Dario Conca after the Argentinean striker's recent outburst against head coach Lee Jang-soo.
However, the South Korean coach is more interested in winning a ticket to the next round of the AFC Champions League than anything Conca wrote on his weibo account.
"The game against Buriram United will be the last group match for us in the AFC Champions League we hope we can still play at home in the next round," Lee said.
After a 3-1 home loss to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on May 1, Guangzhou Evergrande is second in Group H with seven points, leaving the side with a tough task to advance to the knockout stage.
To prepare for the coming match, the team sent scouts to Thailand three days ago.
Meanwhile, the side was to fly to the Southeast Asian country on Tuesday, two days after its 2-1 win at home over Dalian Aerbin in the Chinese Super league.
"I will not be present for the next domestic league match. All we are concerned about now is winning our last group match in the AFC Champions League," Lee said.
The Guangzhou side will play Buriram United on May 15.
"It might be the last match for us in the AFC competition. Only through winning the game can we be sure of going through to the knockout stage," he said.
Following second-placed Guangzhou R&F's 4-2 loss to Shanghai Shenxin and Jiangsu Sainty's 3-1 loss against Guizhou Renhe over the weekend, Guangzhou Evergrande is four points clear at the top of the domestic league.
"We will send another lineup to play Dalian Shide on Friday while our major players will be going all out to prepare for the AFC Champions League match," Lee said.
During the domestic league win over Aerbin on Sunday, captain Zheng Zhi was moved to the forward line to take over Conca's role after the striker was banned for at least nine matches for offensive comments he posted on his weibo account aimed at the club's coach.
Brazilian striker Muriqui's solo effort in the 40th minute gave Guangzhou Evergrande the lead over Aerbin and Cleo added another goal, from a penalty, in the second half.
"We are experiencing a hard situation due to tight schedules in the domestic and Asian competitions. The boys are really tired. So we have to establish two lineups to play in the competitions," Lee said.
Muriqui was replaced by Wu Pingfeng after the Brazilian international suffered a left-leg muscle strain soon after his goal.
"Muriqui will be able to play in the AFC Champions League match as his injury is not serious," Lee said.