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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.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. GZBiffo

    27/02/2013 at 23:17

    Watched the first half of this on a local sports channel, but instead of showing the second half, they stuck on some CBA game instead! Not a single channel of the 80 or so on my Guangzhou cable showed the second half! What was the point in that?

  2. Damian Jones

    28/02/2013 at 19:09

    I’m interested to know if there’s much interest in the ACL up in Beijing? Every time I see Guoan in an away ACL they never seem to have much of an away support. Is there a reason for this?
    Your general support base is much the same as GZ’s but fans down here are always clambering over each other/themselves to get on the away trips.

    • bcheng

      28/02/2013 at 20:44

      It’s a little easier when the club pays the way. Last year Guoan took something like 300 to Korea and probably 50 or so to Japan and Australia (where visas are harder). This year for Korea, there were around 40 or so who went to Korea.

      • GZBiffo

        01/03/2013 at 04:25

        If only your club wasn’t run by such a pack of tight-arses…

        Why the huge drop-off in numbers for Korea this year anyway?

        • bcheng

          01/03/2013 at 07:13

          I think there are a few reasons. First, Guoan wasn’t in the ACL in 2011, so being back in it in 2012 there was a tad bit more excitement about it. Beyond that, a lot of fans had just been the year before, so they didn’t want to go back. You get this a lot with away matches, fans will all get together and go to, say, Guizhou, which is a longer trip, but then the next year they’ll think “I’ve already been, I’m going to wait a few years before I go back.” Finally, and I know this was the case for me, this year Spring Festival was later, it’s hard to have a week long holiday (or more) then come back to the office where things are sure to be very busy and ask for an additional few days off. Not only that, but for a lot of people (again, me included), it was a matter of choosing to take a vacation during Spring Festival or going to the away match in Korea, and people chose an actual vacation.

          These away trips aren’t cheap, Korea would cost anywhere from RMB3,000-8,000+/person. For that matter, domestic away trips aren’t cheap! I was talking to someone about this just yesterday, the new high speed trains have made more cities accessible to a weekend trip, but at the same time they’ve made travel more expensive. I’m going to Wuhan for Guoan’s first away match, the train tickets cost me RMB800, a hotel’s going to be RMB150-300, then there’s the match ticket, meals, etc and we’re talking about easily RMB1,000 or more just for the weekend, and there will be a weekend or two like that every month for the next six months. Now I’m lucky to be a laowai on a pretty decent salary, but for a lot of Chinese we’re talking about serious money.

          • GZBiffo

            01/03/2013 at 14:18

            Cheers for the detailed explanation – it certainly makes sense that not so many fans could justify paying for the trip to Korea two years running and of course the Spring Festival effect would be massive here.

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