Season Opener: Ice Breaker Match Stays Cool in Hangzhou
On a cool and hazy afternoon Hangzhou Greentown opened its 2012 Chinese Super League campaign with a cagey 0-0 tie against Qingdao Jonoon. The match, which marked the return to Huanglong Stadium, remained scoreless thanks to solid goalkeeping from both sides coupled with some woeful finishing. Both managers, new to their positions, can take positive feedback from their season openers, as well as several bright individual performances.
The opening 15 minutes saw cautious approaches from both sides, limiting the number of players pushing forward. Encouraged by a colorful display in attack on the left wing from Renatinho, Hangzhou started to threaten the Qingdao goal. It almost paid off when Du Wei’s header off a Renatinho’s freekick crashed just wide. As the half time mark approached Hangzhou gained momentum, while Qingdao frustratingly picked up several yellow cards and was thankful to go into the locker room without conceding.
The second half saw a complete reversal of roles. Qingdao’s midfield controlled much of the match, creating several chances for a wasteful Zhu Jianrong, otherwise Greentown’s Han Feng was always ready to collect in goal. Greentown nearly capitalized on a counter through Fabricio, who did well to beat the last defender, but shot wide of the mark. Otherwise much of Hangzhou’s second half advances were somewhat easily thwarted.
Clearly, it’s going to take time to develop more team chemistry for the ‘Green Samurais’, especially in transition. The center of the park was largely dominated by Qingdao’s Gabriel Melkam in both directions. Renatinho looks to be a revelation signing with his first performance, but can he deliver results? Overall, both teams will be happy to come away with a tie. Hangzhou, with its new coaching staff and 5 new foreign players, can consider this an “icebreaker match” to hopefully give Okada and co. areas to develop and what to anticipate from Chinese Super League opposition.
Pic: The much anticipated return to Hangzhou’s Huanglong Stadium gave only moments of celebration for eager fans.