Scolari confirms Evergrande departure
Luiz Felipe Scolari confirmed his departure from champion Guangzhou Evergrande but refused to rule out coaching in the Chinese Super League again after securing a third league title in a row.
World Cup winner Scolari took over from Fabio Cannavaro in June 2015 and led Guangzhou to three league crowns as well as the AFC Champions League and Chinese FA Cup.
He originally signed an 18-month contract with the club before extending his deal for another year at the end of last season, but has decided to end his association with the seven-time CSL winner.
"My story with Evergrande is finished," the 68-year-old Brazilian said on Sunday.
"But my story with China may continue. I will carefully think about it. No one knows where we are heading, but I hope Evergrande club can have a bright future.
"I don't know if I will come back to China. I will make my decision carefully. My football life has taken me all over the world, but China is one the three best places that I've ever worked."
Scolari led Guangzhou to the title this season despite rival Shanghai SIPG spending more than US$150 million over the last two years to lure big-name players like Brazilians Oscar and Hulk to the club. Evergrande clinching the crown with two rounds to spare.
It fell short elsewhere, however, with SIPG knocking it out in the FA Cup semifinals and ACL quarterfinals, a trophy Scolari won with Evergrande in 2015.
Chinese media have linked Italians Carlo Ancelotti and Cannavaro with the coaching position at Guangzhou which is expected to name Scolari's successor within the next week.
On Saturday, Tianjin Quanjian pipped Manuel Pellegrini's Hebei China Fortune to third place in the CSL to claim the final berth in next season's ACL.
Visiting Tianjin, coached by Cannavaro, beat champion Guangzhou 2-1 at Tianhe Stadium while Hebei lost a nine-goal thriller against Shandong Luneng despite Ezequiel Lavezzi scoring a hat-trick.
Tianjin moved ahead of Pellegrini's team by two points and will join Guangzhou and SIPG in next year's ACL, although Hebei could still qualify if SIPG defeats Shanghai Greenland Shenhua in the final of the FA Cup later this month.
Celebrating the victory
"Today I don't want to think about anything but celebrating the victory," said Cannavaro, who has been linked with a return to Evergrande.
"Every coach wants to manage a team in the Asian Champions League. The chairman said my mission was to bring the team into the Asian Champions League, and I managed it."
Hebei needed to win against Felix Magath's much-improved side but was two goals down inside the first 38 minutes after Hao Junmin and Papis Cisse put the home side in front.
Two goals in the first 11 minutes of the second half from Lavezzi — the second from the penalty spot — revived Hebei's chances only for Diego Tardelli to put Shandong back in front just before the hour.
Dong Xuesheng pulled Hebei level again but a further two goals from Tardelli, either side of Lavezzi's third of the game, gave Shandong a 5-4 win and all three points, allowing Tianjin the opportunity to move into the ACL places.
Cannavaro's side took full advantage against a Guangzhou side which has lost both games since claiming a seventh straight league title, with Anthony Modesto putting Tianjin in front before Sun Ke doubled his team's advantage and ensured Feng Xiaoting's goal was nothing more than a consolation.
"My congratulations to Shandong, they fought for the result while we had no such highlights," said Pellegrini.
"After the loss our only hope of qualifying for the Asian Champions League was if Evergrande would beat Tianjin.
"Evergrande used to have a good home record, however, they lost to Tianjin and they're now ranked higher than us."
Eran Zahavi scored Guangzhou R&F's first goal in its 2-0 win over Chongqing Lifan to finish the season as the league's leading scorer with 27 goals.
Beijing Guo'an slipped to a 1-2 defeat at home to Changchun Yatai while relegated Yanbian Funde picked up a rare win with a 3-0 victory over Guizhou Zhicheng and Tianjin Teda beat Henan Jianye 1-0.
Shenhua secured a second win in a row as it continued preparations for the FA Cup final with a 4-1 thrashing of Liaoning Whowin and SIPG, its opponent in the two-legged final, lost 2-3 to Fabio Capello's Jiangsu Suning.