REUTERS – Success has come easy to Luiz Felipe Scolari since taking charge of Asian Champions League finalists Guangzhou Evergrande in June, and while fellow Brazilian Elkeson has been a frustrated observer due to injury he is keen to make up for lost time.
Former Brazil coach Scolari has gone 22 games unbeaten as Guangzhou landed a fifth consecutive domestic title last month and they will host Emiratis Al-Ahli on Saturday in the second leg of the ACL final after a goalless draw in Dubai.
Striker Elkeson, a key figure since joining from Botafogo in 2013, has endured an injury-plagued campaign and is disappointed not to have contributed in Scolari’s reign, which begun after Italian Fabio Cannavaro was sacked.
“Unfortunately, this has been a hard year and I have been off the field for a lot (of) time,” Elkeson, who has notched over 70 goals in a trophy-laden spell in Asia, said on Thursday.
“For a player to be sidelined like that is very difficult.”
In his absence, compatriot Ricardo Goulart has taken the spotlight and is the top scorer with eight goals in the Champions League.
However, the 26-year-old Elkeson, who started the first leg in Dubai, is keen to make a contribution on Saturday at a sold-out Tianhe Stadium.
“I am returning to the AFC Champions League final again and I wish to contribute and help my companions with my experience,” he said.
“I hope to help the team in the final like I did in 2013, and if possible, with the help of all the players, to score a goal again.
“If not, then in any other way so I can do my part in achieving victory because that’s the most important thing for everybody at the club.”
Elkeson scored in both legs of the 2013 ACL final when they edged FC Seoul on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate draw.
He was confident the Chinese side could land another title at home, where they have never lost a continental knockout game.
“The first leg is always more difficult because the teams do not know each other well. And now that we know each other better, we know how they play and their strengths and we will improve greatly in the second leg,” he said.
“I think our team is very strong when we play at home. In front of our fans, in our own stadium, we are in a good position.”
(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Peter Rutherford)