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Diego Forlan: Kitchee must battle after Asian Champions League thrashings

Diego Forlan, Kitchee action
Diego Forlan in action during the defeat to Tianjin Quanjian.

Former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan has told ESPN FC that his Kitchee teammates must change their mentality in the Asian Champions League.

Forlan was signed on a four-month contract for the group stages of the ACL, but was frustrated as two-time champions Jeonbuk Motors thrashed Kitchee 6-0 on Tuesday.

That result came a week after an opening day 3-0 defeat to China's Tianjin Quanjian.

"I was playing in the Premier League and I was playing in Spain and in Italy, and when we play in the Copa del Rey, the FA Cup or the Coppa Italia we played against teams from the third division, and sometimes you lose," Forlan said.

"Why? Because they compete. It's not because the other team is a team from China or wherever. They know that maybe they're not the best or a strong side, but they're going to go out and do their best.

"They're not going to let the other players play, they're not going to let them get the ball. They're going to try to do what they can, to defend, to be close to the players. This is the key.

"But if you start the game and you are losing the game 3-0 within 15 minutes, then it's impossible."

Kitchee are runaway leaders of the Hong Kong Premier League but have so far found the gulf in class between domestic competition and the continental champions difficult to bridge.

However, Forlan believes unfancied teams can follow the example of his native Uruguay -- who have won two World Cups and two Olympic Games medals -- and overachieve with the right approach.

"It's about mentality," he said. "You have great players here. You have to know that.

"It doesn't matter if we are a strong side or not, you have to play and not be afraid. If you're afraid and let them play, it doesn't matter if you have 10 players or 20 players behind the ball and you don't defend as a unit. Then you have a problem.

"Uruguay has 3.5 million people, 15 South American Cups, four world titles, why? We don't have money, but we play against Brazil and Germany and we know we are not the strongest team but we compete and we have won many times. It's mentality.

"There are no players from another planet, from Mars or somewhere, because we are all the same. Maybe there are some quicker or more intelligent, but we are all the same and we have to compete.

"If you think they are better than you and go into the game like that, you are going to lose.

"You know that maybe they are better, but you have to compete and do your best. We have to go in and try to do well and go and concentrate. This is the key."

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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