Having badly overstretched the powers of the crystal ball in 2011 with some recklessly bold forecasts, common sense prevailed this year and your correspondents went for a more general prediction of where each team would finish in 2012. Nevertheless, there’s still not a shortage of egg to be wiped from faces as, on the final day of 2012, we look back on how BCheng and Cameron did with their Chinese Super League 2012 season predictions.
1st – Guangzhou Evergrande
Both Bcheng and Cameron learned their lesson from last year and tipped Guangzhou Evergrande to win the title. Hardly an act of supernatural clairvoyance, considering Evergrande’s vast riches and title-winning performance in 2011, but in a league as unpredictable as the CSL, your duo gets off to good start with this solid pick.
2nd – Jiangsu Sainty
Bcheng got the edge on Cameron with this one. He had Sainty down as title contenders, whereas his footballing companion only tipped Sainty to be in contention for an Asian Champions League place. As we all know by now, Sainty were right in the thick of the title race until the closing rounds. A sound prediction from on this one.
3rd – Beijing Guoan
Both Bcheng and Cameron had the capital side down as title contenders. Guoan had a decent season and were rarely out of the top four, but the duo’s joint prediction can’t really be said to be correct, by the half way stage Guoan were out of the running and upstaged by Sainty. This forecast wasn’t a million miles off, but wasn’t quite right at the end of the day.
4th – Guizhou Renhe
Again your correspondents were united in their forecast for the team which moved from Xian to Guizhou – a top ten finish was predicted. However, they were also united in error – Guizhou turned out to be the year’s surprise package and qualified for the ACL via the cup, and then retrospectively via 4th after yet another AFC about turn on Chinese qualification quotas.. Wrong on this one lads.
5th Dalian Aerbin
It’s always hard to predict how newly promoted teams will fare, and Aerbin were no exception. Bcheng went for mid-table mediocrity, whilst Cameron had the northeastern side down for a top ten finish. Aerbin started slowly but gradually improved and ultimately were not far off an ACL place. Another shaky prediction from your correspondents.
6th – Changchun Yatai
Both Bcheng and Cameron said Changchun would only be able to look forward to a season of mid-table mediocrity this year and they were pretty much on the nose with this one. The CSL’s most northern team had a good year but didn’t do enough to get a look at the ACL places. Full marks!
7th – Guangzhou R&F
Again, mid-table mediocrity was the forecast from both pundits for the other newly promoted team. Despite a strong start and good midseason, R&F faded towards the end. They flirted with the ACL places for a while, but the table doesn’t lie and in the end finished as predicted.
8th – Tianjin Teda
Bcheng showed his Beijing colours by predicting a year in the relegation zone for rivals Tianjin, whilst Cameron went for mid-table mediocrity. In actual fact Tianjin were pretty much the definition of mediocre this season, neither good nor bad. A decent prediction overall this one.
9th – Shanghai Shenhua
Cameron allowed the optimist in him to break free and predict Shenhua would be title contenders. Bcheng was more wise, tempering his forecast to ACL contenders. Given the pre-season hype, both predictions looked reasonable at the time they were made. History of course has it differently, Shenhua were mediocre and midtable again this year, and not an awful long way from the relegation zone. crystal ball fail.
10th – Shandong Luneng
Your team got this one even more wrong. Bcheng had Shandong as title contenders, Cameron shared his optimism somewhat by putting the Jinan men down as ACL contenders. As it turned out, Shandong had a very poor year and barely made a top ten finish and were another team who cut it fine in terms of securing CSL football for another season. Egg on face here.
11th – Liaoning Whowin
Both Bcheng and Cameron correctly predicted Liaoning wouldn’t repeat their 2011 feat of finishing 3rd. But Cameron called this one just about right by saying all they could hope for was a top ten finish. Bcheng was more generous, putting Liaoning as ACL contenders, but the northeasterners struggled to get above mid-table all year. not far off with this call.
12th – Qingdao Joonon
The perennial relegation favourites were again tipped as such this year by both your crystal ball gazers. Indeed, they spent much of the year rooted to the foot of the table, but a late surge saw them finish 12th out of 16. Another vaguely correct call, should start writing horoscopes.
13th – Hangzhou Greentown
Another team which both Bcheng and Cameron shared the same forecast on – top ten finishers. However, both were not quite right with this one, the Zhejiang province team looked in danger of going down at one point. In the end, they were bottom of four teams who all finished on 36 points, one point more would have seen them 10th. Not a million miles wrong though.
14th – Dalian Shide
Bcheng’s verdict was mid-table mediocrity, whilst Cameron envisaged a top-ten finish for Shide. However, the relegation zone was where Dalian finished their final CSL season, and no-one predicted that they would go out of existence this year.
15th – Shanghai Shenxin
Both correspondents right on the nose with this one – relegation predicted. However, they look to live to fight another CSL day due to Shide’s demise. As if making CSL predictions wasn’t hard enough…
16th – Henan Construction
This one took the prediction team by surprise – Cameron and Bcheng agreed that Henan would get a top ten finish this year. In reality they turned out to be the weakest side in the CSL this year and looked doomed for at least a month before the season ended. Not a massive shock they return to the China League after six years in the top flight, but not expected by anyone either.
Not a bad set of predictions from – we correctly predicted who the winners would be, one relegated team, 3 of 4 ACL qualifiers and sort of got the teams in the middle right. Shandong and Shenhua were the only real coupon-busters, and we really should have known better, at least as far as Shenhua is concerned. But overall our picks were not bad considering the topsy-turvy world of the CSL.
Look out as we polish the crystal ball all over again in a couple of months for the CSL 2013 season.
Author: Cameron Wilson
UK trained journalist and long-time Chinese football observer Cameron Wilson has been writing about Chinese football for over a decade…