February 9 – Money doesn’t always talk loudest. China’s big-spending Shanghai Greenland Shenhua FC, spearheaded by expensive new signing Carlos Tevez and with former Premier League manager Gus Poyet in charge, have apologised to fans after being dumped out of Asia’s top club competition by Australian underdogs Brisbane Roar.
Shenhua were beaten 2-0 at home in their Asian Champions League final qualifying round clash on Wednesday, leaving Poyet left utterly bewildered and his team embarrassingly conspicuous by their absence in the tournament’s group stages.
“I feel very, very sad with this result,” said the Uruguayan who made his name in England as both a player and manager. “The players gave their all, but we conceded the first goal too suddenly and quickly. We had so many opportunities today. It is hard for me to understand it. It has never happened to me before.”
With the Chinese Super League not due to start until next month, Shanghai Shenhua, who finished fourth last season, 16 points behind champions Guangzhou Evergrande, were playing their first match of the season. But it is unfancied Brisbane who now advance in the Asian Champions League to play Kashima Antlers of Japan, Thailand’s Muangthong United and former champions Ulsan Hyundai from South Korea.
“It’s difficult for me to accept the result, but we have to,” said Poyet. “We have to try very hard for the forthcoming matches.
Shanghai even went so far as to issue a statement apologising to the fans. “For the shame of today’s result, we offer a sincere apology to all those fans who braved the bitter cold to come to the stadium and support Shenhua.”
“The players all did their best, and we longed to win as much as you did, but sometimes soccer can just be this cruel.”
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