Shanghai Shenhua player Yu Hanchao, on the other hand, was full of praises for the facilities at the Education City stadium…
The implementation of the bio-bubble and strict Covid-19 protocols in place in Qatar have come in for high praise from Shanghai SIPG head coach Vitor Pereira.
The East Zone matches of the 2020 AFC Champions League which had been halted due to the pandemic back in March have kick-started in Qatar from Wednesday. Pereira feels that Qatar have created the right atmosphere for the tournament to go ahead.
It must be noted that West Zone matches of the competition were also completed in Qatar back in September.
Shanghai SIPG are set to take on Sydney FC at the historic Khalifa International Stadium on Thursday afternoon in their Group H opener. Pereira, who manages a team that has notable names like Hulk, Oscar and Ricardo Lopes, paid tribute to the Qatari officials who helped make the completion of the tournament a reality.
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“Qatar has created the right conditions to play this tournament,” the former FC Porto, Olympiakos and Fenerbahce coach said. “We all currently live in very difficult times, but the country has done everything in terms of protocols to help get this game played. We’re happy about that and we’re looking forward to the tournament.”
“This tournament means a lot to me personally, so we are happy to be here and happy to play,” he added.
The matches are set to be held in the four venues, including three which have been developed for the 2022 World Cup which kicks off in two years’ time as well. The facilities on offer at these venues have also come in for high praise from several participating players.
Sydney FC midfielder Paolo Retre was left impressed by the Khalifa international stadium. “I’ve had a look around the stadium and it’s fantastic. The facilities are great and I’m sure the boys will love playing here,” he said.
Meanwhile, Choi Kang-hee, head coach of Shanghai Shenhua, who defeated Perth Glory 2-1 in their tournament opener on Wednesday was left in awe of the venue – Education City stadium. He feels it belongs in the same pantheon as the greatest football stadiums in the world.
It must be noted that Kang-hee is a legend at Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors whose home stadium is the Jeonju World Cup Stadium which was built specifically for the 2002 World Cup.
“In addition to the 2002 WC stadiums in South Korea, my work has taken me to a lot of great stadiums all over the world. The facility here (Education City Stadium) has impressed me a lot. For our players to play in such a top quality pitch and such excellent conditions and facilities – we are really satisfied,” he stated.