Guangdong Sunray Cave (12th) vs Wuhan Zull (2nd)
As China League One continues to dissolve into unpredictability, Wuhan have emerged as the side within the division currently enjoying the best form. Three victories and two draws in their last five games have allowed them to overhaul Tianjin Songjiang and
Hunan Xiantao, and the team from Hubei are now only five points behind Shanghai East Asia with a game in hand.
The visitors to Guangzhou are coming into form at just the right time and midfielder Luo Yi and Brazilian forwards Adair and Vicente have been at the forefront of Zull’s charge towards pole position in CL1.
Guangzhou Sunray Cave on the other hand are in complete shambles. Last week, they were beaten 4-0 by the league’s then worst side Hohhot Dongjin- their fourth defeat in a row. At the start of the season, GSC were among the teams that could have viewed themselves as promotion contenders but instead poor luck and wildly inconsistent form have destroyed those ambitions. Now, the home side are now four points away from the relegation zone and need to find a win or they will soon get caught up in what was previously a three-team dogfight for survival between Hohhot, Beijing Baxy and Shenyang Shenbei.
Wuhan now have the eyes of CL1 on them as they emerge as the current team-to-beat. Whilst other teams have faltered, Zull have thrived and GSC shouldn’t derail that momentum. Expect a third victory in six for the visitors.
Yanbian Tigers (10th) vs. Shanghai East Asia (1st)
Aiya! Shanghai East Asia were once unquestionably the team no one wanted to play in the division but now they are struggling to even scrape a victory. Loss of form and confidence has hit the Shanghainese team hard and with each slip-up, what could have been a healthy lead at the top, diminishes by the week.
The hosts for the day, Yanbian, are a tricky side to assess. For starters, their home form is wildly erratic victories against Hunan and Shenzhen Ruby have been undermined by odd losses to teams like Fujian Smart Hero and Chengdu Blades. Unheralded Chinese players like Chi Zhongguo and Xu Bo (now without his terrible bleached blond mop top) have helped make a real difference to the team’s fortunes along with Korean striker Hong Jin-Sub but overall Yanbian doesn’t feel like a side that could blow sides away.
Given East Asia’s current form, a victory for the guests doesn’t seem likely. Instead, a draw would be the more likely outcome, which would hopefully steady nerves for a league-leading side that lack none of the assurance and confidence that their current position in the standing implies.
Chongqing FC (8th) vs. Shenzhen Ruby (6th)
Earlier in the season, this writer suggested that Chongqing FC were done for the season in terms of their promotion aspirations. Nonsense. Now, with almost every team in CL1 struggling to find any kind of consistency, the league is suddenly wide open and a team with eight losses in eighteen games is still only six points away from a promotion spot.
The visit of Shenzhen Ruby therefore makes for an intriguing game. A team that has lurched from disaster to glory on an almost weekly basis, Shenzhen have benefitted the most from the erratic form of the teams around them. A win would the visitors would move them within a victory of a promotion spot.
Chris Killen, a former Shenzhen player will be looking to make a point to his old manager, Phillippe Troussier, and the Chongqing team in general will want to show they are realistic contenders for promotion. That said, this feels like a draw between two teams that don’t want to lose ground to the other when there are still another ten games to play in the league.