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Pub Talk: The CSL’s BACK!

This week the Editor and B. Cheng get together in the pub over a pint as the pub regulars discuss the week that was, China’s loss to Jordan and the downfall of the Chinese women’s team as well as preparing you for a cracking Saturday of Chinese Super League action with a number of major matches with Asian Champions League and relegation implications.  B. Cheng says goodbye to his mate Shanghai Ultra who is heading to Kunming for awhile and they debate whether the Chinese Super League will be saying goodbye to Shanghai after this season.

Shanghai Ultra (Shanghai Shenhua): So, another unfortunate result during the week for the
Chinese NT…

BCheng (Beijing Guoan): They played well, it was a game they probably shouldn’t
have lost, but you can’t win them all…Hopefully they’ll get things
back on track when they play Iraq next month.

S: I saw the match and I thought China played pretty
poorly. Poor passing, poor technique and a lack of organization or

B: Well, poor is in the eye of the beholder, to be honest
it was an improvement over last Friday’s match against Singapore, but
there are still plenty of places where the side is lacking.

S: I just hope China can just get it together. They have
the quality to get out of this group. Whats the word on the
Internet-street about the new boss?

B: It’s positive for the most part, he’s new to the job and
away at “West Asia” has never been easy for China. Not getting at
least a point out of this one will be painful, but it’s not the end of
the world, with 6 matches left to go.

S: Yeah I still think China can do it. Losing one game
isn’t a huge deal, plus the top two go through. Did you see this story
about China’s young players “to leave for overseas”. Subject matter
aside, what a shocking grammatical error to see in leading English
language national newspaper.

B: The leading English language national newspaper is a
joke full of such mistakes…

S: Haha. What do you think about the plan to send players
to Portugal?

B: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with these ideas,
they may even be beneficial, but it all depends on the details and how
long they actually stay.

S: Right. Although I don’t really see Portugal as an

B: Well, its more developed than China is, so it should be
beneficial to learn new tactics, play against people who play a
different style of football.

S: Yeah I’d agree with that. So anything else happened on
the international front over the last week that you think is worth

B: Is women’s soccer worth mentioning?

S: Yeah, what’s going on there?

B: The Chinese women won’t be headed to London, another
Chinese team putting in shocking performances

S: I thought the women’s team was much better than the
men’s generally speaking?

B: Generally speaking they were up until 2005 or so when a
lot of the 1999 generation all pretty much retired from the scene.
I refer to the 1999 generation as in the US that was a
major event, in China as well. The World Cup that year, which the US
won, beating China on penalties, was the first time the Women’s World
Cup really gained prominence.
As I mentioned in the article I wrote today, China’s had
plenty of chances for glory, including hosting 3 major competitions
and this year’s Olympic qualifying, but even at home, they can’t win.

S: It would be a real shame if the mens ineptitude
affected the development of the women’s game.

B: The coaching figure is shocking, one manager led the
team from 1991-2001, since then, they’ve gone through 9 managers (not
including 1 caretaker).

S: That’s not right, why so many changes?

B:  A lot of it has to do with desperation and chasing
trophies. The people at the CFA wanted to win things, if they failed,
they fired the coach, hoping someone else could do better. It was a
search for instant gratification instead of longterm success.\

S: Same old story, we can see this kind of thinking more
and more in football all over the world.

B: Exactly, but its somewhat rarer in the women’s game.
Anyways, enough of the depressing national team talk, the Chinese Super League is back
this weekend and there are some tasty matches, most of all the one in
the capital, which a lot of people will be watching.

S: Yes, 2nd versus 3rd, thats about as exciting as the
Chinese Super League can offer what with Guangzhou running away with it.

B: Right, but if you look at the full slate, the majority
of the matches have some significance, be it for Asian Cup spots or in
I don’t think I’m overstating it by saying this Saturday
should be one of the best matchdays of the season

S: I think so, we’ve got your lot versus Liaoning,
Shandong have a big match against Guangzhou, and Shannxi are taking on
Shenhua in Shanghai – a game Shaanxi need to win if they want to grab
a Chinese Super League place

B: Even beyond those, there are a number of teams that are
going head to head in matches with significant ACL implications,
Hangzhou (5 points out) vs. Changchun (3 points out) and Jiangsu (6
points out) vs. Tianjin (5 points out) are major. The losers of those
matches will have whatever ACL hopes they have crushed.
At the bottom you have crucial survival games: Nanchang
(18 points) vs. Shenzhen (19 points) and Dalian (19 points) vs. Henan
(22 points)
The results of all these matches will give us a much
clearer picture of the ACL and relegation chances of different teams.

S: I notice you have very tactfully left Shenhua’s name
out of the relegation discussion

B: I know you’re down on your club, but I just can’t see
them in the race. As it is right now, they sit 6 points out, plus they
still play the hapless Chengdu once more. If they can manage just one
more win, they’ll be safe

S: I think that’s another reason why its a big Chinese Super League
weekend – the pressure is on Shenhua – we have just had a two-week
break for the international games, the talk was all about Shenhua
re-grouping and getting themselves together after their appalling one
point out of 27 run. They should be back refreshed, but if they slip
up again against Shaanxi this weekend, they really will be up the
creek without a paddle.

B: I honestly expect them to lose, but I still don’t see it
putting them in the relegation zone race. They might technically be
close to it, but beyond Chengdu, they still play Dalian and Nanchang,
two teams very much in the thick of the fight to stay up. All Shenhua
need is one more win and they’ll be safe, they should be able to get
That said, I think they’ll only get 1 more win, 2 at
most, as the remaining schedule, other than those relegation sides,
include 2 matches against Guangzhou, one each against their local
rivals Hangzhou and Jiangsu, and of course the China derby to end the

S: well lets look at the table, Shenhua 24 points, Henan
22, Dalian 19, Shenzhen 19, Nanchang 18, Chengdu 13. With the bottom
two going down, that only puts Shenhua six points away from the
relegation zone, I’m not saying Shenhua will definitely go down, but
the other teams will pick up points here and there, its been that kind
of season.

B: True, but they have that six point cushion, which is
big, and there are four other teams involved. Chengdu is definitely
going down, it’s just a question of who will join them and I’m
guessing it will be Shenzhen or Nanchang.
With all that in mind, if they are in the thick of the
relegation battle on the last day of the season, I think it may be
worth taking a day or two off of work to watch Guoan put them in the
China League.

S: Haha. Well Shenhua already lost to Nanchang at home.
So will they be able to handle them any better away from home?

B: I hope for the league’s sake Shanghai stays up, there
needs to be a team from Shanghai in the top flight, if not for any
other reason but for us to hate.

S: Haha. Well, I am reasonably confident they can at
least get a draw against Shaanxi at home. Good lord. Did I really just
say that?

B: A draw, maybe. Shaanxi’s tough and they are playing for
their ACL life.

S: Playing for your Chinese Super League life is an even tougher fight.
But, all in all its good to have the Chinese Super League back and I’m looking forward
to getting back on the terrace at Hongkou.

B: Me too, it’s been so long, there are a ton of posts on
weibo about fans looking forward to tomorrow or happy because they
just realized they’ll be able to head to their stadium tomorrow night.
I myself can’t wait to put on the green, hit my usual
kebab spot, and stand in my usual spot on the terraces tomorrow.

S: I’m also looking forward to seeing Derek Riordan
turnout for Shaanxi at Hongkou – i saw him play for Hibernian against
my hometown team, Dunfermline Athletic,

B: Are you feeling in the welcoming mood toward your fellow
Scot or hoping to make him most unwelcome? As for me, I’m excited to
be seeing Li Tie, even if it will only be in a reserve game on Sunday.

C: Ha. Well, to be honest I think the guy deserves
credit, he’s got balls making the decision to come out and play in
somewhere like China. The average Scottish footballer thinks Newcastle
is a bit far away.

B: True, true. Is it time to call it a wrap on what could
be the last pub chat of the season?

S: It’s true I’m about to leave Shanghai for a sabbatical
of sorts, at least a few months language study in Kunming, but I will
continue to follow Shenhua from afar and hope to continue our weekly
visit to the pub.

B: I hope so too, good luck to you during your time away,
hopefully it will help maintain your sanity!
I think it’s time to call this pub chat to a close,
especially because its Friday night and I want to hit the real pub.
Cheers to the Chinese Super League’s return and Shenhua staying up!

S: Yes – that’s a good point, and well made.Cheers to
B-dog cheering Shenhua!

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.



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