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Pereira wants winning mentality at Shanghai SIPG


Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Vitor Pereira-Shanghai SIPG-AFP

Shanghai: Vitor Pereira is setting his sights on another trophy in the wake of Shanghai SIPG’s Chinese Super League triumph last year as the Portuguese tactician seeks to establish a culture of success at the club, with this season’s AFC Champions League a prime target.


Pereira guided Shanghai to the Chinese title last year as the club claimed their first-ever trophy before the Chinese Super Cup was added to their haul at the start of the current campaign with victory over Beijing Guoan.

But, with their quarter-final against Urawa Red Diamonds in the AFC Champions League looming, the former FC Porto coach is determined to secure another major trophy this season as he aims to create a winning habit at the Shanghai club.

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“I had a meeting with the club the other day and said: ‘Now is the right time to not only win one title but this season we must win something else, because then you create a mentality to win,’” he told the-AFC.com.

“You cannot win one year and then the year after you win nothing. This is the spirit we must create in this team. We must win something because then the respect of the opponents comes. They look at us as winners and we create the spirit to win.

“This is my task. I’m focused on winning, even for my motivation. I don’t want to stay in China PR if I don’t win. If I win, if I create this spirit and everybody understands then I’m happy to stay.”

Pereira’s single-minded approach has seen him turn SIPG into champions after a series of runners-up finishes in Chinese competitions under previous head coaches Sven-Goran Eriksson and Andre Villas Boas, with the club finishing second in the CSL in 2015 and 2017 and also losing in the 2017 Chinese FA Cup final.

In his first season, however, Pereira pushed the club towards their first CSL title, claiming the trophy ahead of perennial champions Guangzhou Evergrande and qualifying for the AFC Champions League for a fourth consecutive season.

“I think what changed in our club, the best change, was the mentality,” says Pereira of the reason SIPG made the step up from contenders to champions. “When we face a big game we believe we can win - in Guangzhou, in Beijing - because we proved last season that we have the condition to win. I think this was the step, the mental step.

“Last season I remember the moment when we lost against Kashima Antlers (in the AFC Champions League), for me it was difficult. I’m ambitious. I came here to win titles, but in other ways we had the chance to focus on the league and for us it was a possibility to have that because we also went out of the Chinese FA Cup to Beijing Guoan on penalties."

2018 Round of 16 1st Leg: Kashima Antlers 3-1 Shanghai SIPG

“It was a difficult time, but we had the possibility to focus on the league and I think we won this league because we did very good work as a team. In the end we went to Beijing and won, we won against Shandong Luneng at their home, we went to Jiangsu Suning and drew and we won the deciding game against Guangzhou. The big step was we were more consistent in our mentality.”

That loss to Kashima in the Round of 16 of the AFC Champions League last year has left Pereira wanting to make amends in this season’s Continental championship, with Urawa standing between his team and a place in the semi-finals.

Having seen firsthand the quality of the Japanese teams in the AFC Champions League in his 18 months with Shanghai so far, he knows not to underestimate Tsuyoshi Otsuki’s side despite their ongoing struggles in the domestic league.

“We played Kawasaki Frontale before and also last season Kashima Antlers and they are technical teams, the players are technical players with good tactical work,” he says. “I think they do good work in their youth teams and for that reason it’s not easy to face them.

“But we believe if we play at our best level it’s possible to go forward I think. Urawa are a very good team. I analysed them before, they have a lot of supporters so it will be difficult but I believe in my team also."

“I believe last season we were not prepared for this level of competition. Against Kashima, we had a chance when we played at home to score 2-0 and we only won 1-0 and went out. We had a big chance in the last minute and it means that we are at the level to compete with them.

“It will be difficult, for sure, because they (Urawa) have good players and they’re a good team but the first game will be important for us. We play at home and we have to score and not concede goals, because away I think we can score. It will be difficult, but we have our chance.”

Photos: AFP, AFC

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