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Andre Villas-Boas: ACL run 'a good experience' for Shanghai SIPG

Andre Villas-Boas looks on during the Chinese Super League between Shanghai SIPG and Changchun Yatai.
Andre Villas-Boas saw his side eliminated in the semifinals.

Andre Villas-Boas said Shanghai SIPG's run to the semifinals of the AFC Champions League was a "step forward" despite their defeat by Japanese club Urawa Red Diamonds.

A goal from Rafael Silva was enough to earn Urawa a 2-1 aggregate win and a place in the final against Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal.

SIPG have improved since the arrival of Villas-Boas and are in second place in the Chinese Super League as well as in the final of the Chinese FA Cup.

"This achievement in the ACL was a step forward for SIPG," the former Chelsea manager said.

"For next season, we will have to see what regulations the Chinese Football Association (CFA) is going to apply. That will be super important for our team-building. We don't have a clear picture yet.

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"The ACL has different policies to the CSL. But today this ACL journey has been a very good experience for us.

"We hoped to make it to the final, and we are very disappointed that we failed. The players may be very sad but I hope they can move on as soon as possible because we have more games coming up.

"We had more possession in the match, but we failed to create enough shots and so we weren't able to score enough goals."

Villas-Boas said the Chinese FA Cup final, in which his side face second division Shanghai Shenxin over two legs, meant "our dream of winning a title is still alive."

He added: "It's a pity we have gone out of the ACL, which is a very, very important competition to us."

Last-minute changes to the regulations governing the number of foreign players that can be fielded in the Chinese Super League caused an imbalance between the teams Chinese clubs could field in domestic and continental competitions.

Days before the start of the season, the CFA removed the ruling that allowed clubs to field four foreign players, with one slot given to players from elsewhere in Asia, handing that place to a Chinese player under the age of 23.

Further changes to the rules are expected ahead of next season.

Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch

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