AFC Champions League Preview: Guangzhou Evergrande v Kashiwa Reysol
By Football News
Kashiwa Reysol coach Nelsinho Baptista has refused to give up hope of reaching the final of the AFC Champions League final.
The Japanese side were beaten 4-1 by Marcello Lippi's Guangzhou Evergrande in the first leg of their semi-final and face an uphill task in the second leg on Wednesday.
Reysol are without a win in their last five games in all competitions, while Evergrande have lost just once in the Chinese Super League this season.
However, Baptista believes his side can overcome the first-leg deficit and keep their hopes of winning the competition alive.
"I know the return leg will be a difficult one for us, but I also think that we still have the possibility to go to the next round," he told the AFC's website.
"I’ve seen some cases when a team has turned around the situation for their favour in a similar situation. Bearing that in our mind, we will prepare for our return leg.
"We are learning in the AFC Champions League. We reached the last 16 last year when we first played in the tournament and are now competing in the semi-finals and still have a chance to advance to the next round as we have the remaining half of this tie."
Evergrande are on the verge of their third consecutive CSL title after their 4-0 win over Hangzhou on Saturday.
As well as conceding just seven goals in the Champions League this season, Lippi's side are in prolific form at the other end of the pitch, having scored 12 times in their past three games in all competitions.
Four of those goals came in the second half against Reysol, but the former Italy boss is not taking anything for granted as he looks to ensure his team are the competition's first Chinese finalists since Dalian Wanda in 1998.
"I don’t think we have got (a place in the final) yet," the FIFA World Cup-winning coach said.
"I’m 64 years old this year and have been in the coaching business for 30 years, and from that experience I can tell that you that you never know what will happen next in football.
"Reysol have ability and were a tough side to play this time."
The winners of the tie will meet either Esteghlal or Seoul in the final, with the South Korean side taking a 2-0 advantage into Wednesday's second leg.