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Football: Weather plays havoc with Chinese rivals’ Asian title hopes

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Shanghai SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas (R) said his team’s trip home from a weekend defeat had been “very bad” due to flight delays © AFP/File / STR

Shanghai, China, Aug 21 – Luiz Felipe Scolari was left shaking his head Monday and Andre Villas-Boas spoke of “a very bad trip” after rain and lightning disrupted their AFC Champions League quarter-final preparations.

Scolari’s Guangzhou Evergrande are slight favourites when they visit Villas-Boas’s Shanghai SIPG in the first leg of their all-Chinese clash on Tuesday.

But both saw their build-ups thrown into disarray by bad weather that lashed parts of China.

Villas-Boas effectively conceded the Chinese Super League (CSL) title to leaders and reigning champions Evergrande following a 2-1 loss on Saturday at Guizhou Zhicheng.

Compounding his and SIPG’s misery ahead of what promises to be a defining week in their season, Villas-Boas revealed that the team’s flight back had been delayed because of lightning in Shanghai.

“We had a very bad trip returning from Guizhou, not only because of the result but because we had problems with the flights and we only got back at 4:30am,” said the former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager.

“It’s not ideal preparation for this game, but we still have tonight and tomorrow to rest a bit.

“We are in a long, competitive run of fixtures and trips and hopefully we can be fresh for tomorrow.”

Villas-Boas, who will come under pressure if he fails to deliver silverware this season, wants to take at least a one-goal advantage back to southern China for the second leg next month against two-time AFC champions Evergrande.

Just as Villas-Boas was speaking a torrential downpour submerged Shanghai, scuppering Scolari’s well-laid training plans at the last minute.

The unamused Evergrande coach later ambled in 20 minutes early to a hastily rearranged press conference and repeatedly shook his head and put his head in his hands.

Asked by AFP what was troubling him, Scolari — another former Chelsea boss — insisted he was fine.

“We understand there was heavy rain in the stadium (where they were to train) so we just moved to another training field, no problem,” the Brazilian said, although his body language told a different story.

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