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ACL: Guoan earn a point at Pohang in ACL opener

A 0-0 draw gets Beijing Guoan’s 2013 Asian Champions League campaign off to a good start as they earn a point away at Pohang Steelers. Guoan manager Aleksandar Stanojevic is sure to be pleased with his side’s effort, though there are plenty of areas that need improvement before the first league match next week.

It was an unusual match in that only two (of the allowed 8) foreigner players were in the starting lineup, both for Guoan (Darko Matic and Joffre Guerron). There was much attention placed on how Guoan would line up in the first competitive match under the new manager and he played a defensive 4231 formation. For much of the opening half, the visitors were under attack, struggling to get the ball out of their end and go on the counter attack.

Both sides struggled with creating chances in the first half, but Guoan’s singular man up top, Guerron, who was playing there due to Freddie Kanoute’s injury, was having an especially hard time. The second half saw the match open up a little bit with close calls for both sides coming in spurts. First, it was a quick Guerron shot from 30 yards out that hit the cross bar, then it was a Zhang Xizhe shot booted into row Z after a nice setup from Zhou Ting.

Pohang had their own great chances, Shin Jin-Ho, who was dangerous all night, forced Yang Zhi to make a quick reaction save, then moments later Yang was once again forced to make a big save in the box. The keeper deserves a lot of credit for keeping Guoan in the match, but he made a big mistake in the 79th minute when he came out and failed to catch an easy cross, forcing captain Xu Yunlong to make a heart stopping goal line clearance.

Few Guoan fans will be disappointed with the result as Pohang was the better side on the night. Xu said, “They (Pohang) had some chances on the night, but we also had a lot of chances of our own. I think we could have done better.”

In the group’s other match, Bunyodkor won 2-0 on the road at Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

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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