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Shenhua 1-2 Henan: another shocking home defeat

What on earth is going on at Hongkou stadium? That is just one of the many questions on the lips of Shanghai Shenhua fans at the moment as the team crashed to its fifth defeat in six games against relegation-threatened Henan on Saturday night.

Your correspondent missed the game due to commitments elsewhere. But word on the terrace was that it was yet another insipid Shenhua showing as the highlights reveal. Henan travelled south to Shanghai deep in the relegation mire on 14 points, just two ahead of the bottom pair, Chengdu and Shenzhen. In other words, a team having a poor season. In any case, normally this would be a fixtue which Shenhua would be expected to win, especially playing at home. But, the Hongkou side have been handing out points like confetti recently, and in particular being a friend to all teams in relegation trouble. So it was perhaps no surprise that they came away from yet another fixture empty-handed.

Shenhua lined up with midfielder Yu Tao in defence again, and second-choice keeper Qiu Shenjiong in goals, replacing the dropped Wang Dalei, whoose poor performances have cost his side several points in the past weeks. Its very unfortunate indeed that Qiu Shenjiong is an even worse keeper than Wang Dalei, his name has featured in many a match report covering a Shenhua defeat. This would be another such instance.

And yet it had begun so well for Shenhua, roving defender Dai Lin scored a cracking long range shot from outside the box, hitting home a clearance from the Henan defence low into the bottom right hand side of the net, via a slight deflection after just eight minutes. Soon after, Juan Angulo almost scored with another long-distance shot, but he hit the bar.

Clown in a goalkeeper's jersey - Qiu Shenjiong (sports163)

Henan went on the attack, and a typically poorly-positioned Qiu Shenjiong had to scramble back to try to reach a looping Henan header from the middle of the box. He didn’t make it, but fortunately the header went wide. However, it didn’t take Henan long to capitalize on his endless incompetance, when a cross into the box was softly headed towards goal by Brazilian forward Leandro Netto de Macedo, Qiu Shenjiong momentarily appeared to forget that his task was to stop the ball entering his own net, and he fell stupidly to the ground in an absolutely pathetic attempt to save what was an easy shot. Shenhua had surrendered their lead.

Later, Qiu again thrust himself in the spotlight and pulled another party trick from his incredible repertoire of ineptitude by parrying a cross into the path of Netto. But what Qiu lacks in even basic goalkeeping ability, he made up for in sheer good fortune – Netto fluffed his chance. Half time, 1-1.

In the second half, it was only a matter of time before Henan scored another goal – a nice volley by midfielder Xu Yang from the edge of the box should have been kept out by the keeper – except the keeper was Qiu Shenjong so of course, the ball slipped through his hands and into the net for Henan’s second goal. Shenhua had a couple of close chances through Jiang Kun and Feng Renliang, but both to no avail.

In the closing stages, as Shenhua pushed forward, Qiu Shenjiong took centre stage once again by coming up into the Henan box to contest a Shenhua corner. He suceeded on getting his head to the ball, but his effort trundled wide. Perhaps he may wish to consider playing upfront on a permanent basis, he is certainly no goalkeeper.

And with that, the curtain came down on yet another home defeat to a relegation candidate – something that Shenhua may soon become themselves if they don’t arrest this deeply shocking run of bad results.

UK trained journalist and long-time Chinese football observer Cameron Wilson has been writing about Chinese football for over a decade…

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Yiddo Huayi

    08/08/2011 at 23:09

    “Clown in a goalkeeper’s jersery”? I take back what I said about Shenhua and Spurs. More like Almunia than Gomes!

    Also intersting switch of music from euro-techno to baroque. Probably should be more of Tom Hark: “CSL – you’re having a laugh!”

    Nice layout of the website btw.

  2. Steve

    09/08/2011 at 00:26

    Couple of things I’ll add to this:

    We actually started with Yu Tao in midfield for a change, with #30 (Tao Jin, according to Wikipedia) alongside Dai Lin at CB. He didn’t look any more convincing than anyone else we’ve played there, sadly. It looked like Yu Tao dropped back to CB after subs were made later on.

    While I don’t disagree that Qiu is a shocking keeper, I think you’re being a bit harsh blaming him for the goals. The first goal lies squarely at the feet of Wu Xi & Angulo who left Henan’s left winger completely unmarked during the buildup. That cross doesn’t come in, the goal isn’t scored. The second goal looked like a pretty well-worked move from Henan, and I can’t really argue with them getting the points.

    The thing which I’m starting to find even more concerning than the defence is the total lack of drive or creativity going forwards. Here’s an old Shankleyism (probably misquote) for you: “A football team is like a grand piano. You need 8 men to carry the thing and 3 to play it”. Shenhua don’t even seem to have that three — Dai Lin gets forward with some purpose, Salmeron works very hard and is generally dependable, and other than that…?

    Don’t say Feng Renliang — he’s the Adam Johnson of Chinese football. Exciting breakthrough first season after transferring from a lower-league side, and then completely & utterly found out as inexcusably one-footed and one-tricked in the second year. Yeah, he’s fast, but he’s also fairly easy to deal with when defenders are wise to the fact that he’s going to try and cut in every. single. time. Very frustrating to watch — there’s really no excuse for any professional to be that one-footed. I’m not sure he’d get in the team of some top-half CSL sides at the moment.

    That’s another point — is there a single left-sided player in our first 11? Very imbalanced, and playing with such slowness and tentativeness. In fairness, the recent run of form will do that to a team’s confidence, particularly in the absence of a leader to pick them up. I can’t help feeling it all started with the Beijing game?

    • Anonymous

      09/08/2011 at 03:25

      I have to say Steve I wasn’t at the game so I could only go by the match highlights, hence this rather one-sided and factually-inaccurate report. But your comments are extremely interesting, Feng Renliang reluctantly agree he does seem to be a one-trick pony and he’s been found out in his second season. He could still make it if he learns to expand his game though, he has got skills and speed way above the average CSL player.

      Yiddo, Hao Jumin havent been following him closely, although Chinese players face a motivational problem coming back to play in the CSL having failed overseas. Surprised to see Shandong beat by Shaanxi in the last game. Shenhua will have their work cut out to take anything form their next match away to them.

      • Steve

        09/08/2011 at 05:15

        I wouldn’t say the report is too inaccurate — the ironic thing about Qiu is that despite another generally inept performance which hardly inspires confidence, he wasn’t (IMO) to blame directly for the actual goals — this would have been different had their #9 not somehow contrived to miss an open goal from a rebound, though.

        As the highlights probably show, Shenhua looked fine until the Henan goal on the break, and weren’t really in the game after that, save for a couple of half-chances. Same frustrating issues as have been evident for a while — dodgy keeper, no centre-back pairing, lack of ideas going forwards. Summed up the utter pointlessness of Castro, too — while I’m loathe to criticize any Argentinian playmaker, he really is a waste of a foreign player slot. Nice technique, particularly in tight spaces, but he plays much too far back to be a creative force and I don’t really see what he offers that, say, a Jiang Kun – Yu Tao – Cao Yunding midfield three wouldn’t — freeing up a chance to either play the new Colombian lad further forwards, or bring in a halfway competent centre-back from somewhere (surely if every other CSL team can attract a monster of a foreign CB, Shanghai wouldn’t be too hard a sell?)

        Distressing times at Hongkou as you say — would be nice to see a change of personnel or new system tried out, but there doesn’t seem to be anything in the way of depth in the squad (hence the reluctance or inability to change things around with subs).

        Having said all that, our record against top sides isn’t shabby this year, so watch them go and win in Shandong next week now…

        • Anonymous

          09/08/2011 at 06:58

          Haha. Now that is a bold prediction indeed! Good points though elsewhere. You submit your football manager CV to Zhujun.

  3. Yiddo Huayi

    09/08/2011 at 01:08

    You are up against Shandong next (away). Any idea how Hao Junmin has been going with them? Must be a hard psychological challenge to get up for this game.

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