‘We have to be better’ demands Van Bronckhorst after China debut loss

Shanghai (AFP) – Giovanni van Bronckhorst said his Guangzhou R&F side must move on quickly from “a very disappointing night” after a 3-0 defeat in the former Barcelona star’s first match as a coach in the Chinese Super League.

Ex-Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Mousa Dembele conceded a penalty, one of two given away by R&F, as they began the coronavirus-delayed season by losing to Roberto Donadoni’s Shenzhen.

Van Bronckhorst, a Champions League winner with Barcelona in 2006, will need to lift his squad quickly for a derby clash with Fabio Cannavaro’s reigning CSL champions Guangzhou Evergrande on Thursday. 

“Overall a very disappointing night for myself, for the team, for the club, not being able to start the league with that first win,” said the 45-year-old former Dutch captain following Sunday’s defeat behind closed doors in Dalian.

Van Bronckhorst, who also played for Arsenal and moved to China following a successful spell as Feyenoord coach, was particularly unhappy that R&F conceded two penalties in quick succession.

Shenzhen scored both, in the 64th and 70th minutes, with R&F already trailing at half-time thanks to an own goal.

For the first penalty, the 33-year-old Dembele caught Li Yuanyi’s heel in the box.

“I don’t think he’s creating any danger (Li), the player goes away from goal and in the 18-yard box you have to keep him in front of you,” said Van Bronckhorst.

“I think this is a penalty we could have avoided.”

Van Bronckhorst added: “We have 13 games to go and we have to be in much better shape for the coming games because the way we played today is not the way I want to see and not the way we can play.”

The CSL kicked off on Saturday five months late because of the coronavirus with all matches played in Suzhou or Dalian and behind closed doors in a revamped format. 

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