Another week, another winless game for R&F. In what is now becoming a weekly ritual, the Yuexiushan side took little away from their match, this time a meandering scoreless draw against Shanghai East Asia. The fans were unhappy, the players were angry and even CCTV had a dig, calling the game ‘awful’. The Xinkuai newspaper draws parallels with Guangzhou’s current rainy season. The paper grimly notes that, like the city itself, R&F haven’t had much sunshine recently.
One person who should probably get the blame is…God. According to Xinkuai the R&F senior team visited a temple and prayed for the teams’ success. If Yakubu and God are unable to help them now, things are getting desperate. In an ironic twist of fate, a spectator (actually a Manchester United fan) who had got into the stadium for free won the half-time lottery prize draw. Who said God doesn’t have a sense of humour?
If God’s snub wasn’t enough, it seems that things are beginning to unravel for Farias’ side and the team are starting to show their frustration publicly. Brazilian Raphael, known to have had his differences with Farias last season, was visibly angry when substituted on the 76th minute. After shaking Farias’ hand, he threw a bottle of water which had been passed to him. According to Nandu in the post-match press conference Farias was evasive and dismissed ‘Watergate’. Raphael, Farias explains, was simply being emotional.
Slow and unorganised in attack, the Guangzhou Daily writes, the front two of Yakubu and Raphael don’t seem to gel very well. The paper also goes on to report the comments of CCTV commentator Han Qiaosheng who said during the game ‘It’s Saturday peak-time viewing, and we’re showing a barely passable tedious match.” Well, if CCTV are criticising you for being dull, you really know you’ve got problems. Ever the optimists, Xinkuai finishes on a positive note , crossing its fingers and saying that performances have generally improved and the first win is just a matter of time. Another case of blind faith?
For Guangzhou’s team in red, Evergrande, this weekend’s match was a decidedly bumpy affair against Dalian Aerbin. Although coming away 2-1 winners, the reigning champions didn’t have it all their own way. Someone who did have it all his way was Conca, who was given permission to miss the game to be with his ill son. Or did he? According to a gossipy Guangzhou Daily, Conca was spotted in a hotel bar in Sanya. If all of this is familiar to you, it is because it was before the game against Dalian last year that a suspended Conca did the same thing and took his family to Sanya. With Conca predicted to leave Evergrande in the summer, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of his spell.
Another Evergrande player reportedly looking for the exit door at Tianhe Stadium is Lucas Barrios. His star status on a downward slide, Barrios actually proved to be the hero on Sunday, scoring his first league goal of the season and getting an assist. The Guangzhou Daily puts an interesting and intriguing spin on Barrios’ sudden rise in form. Was it Conca’s absence that brought a once lethargic Barrios to life? More active, going from attack to defence, this was not the Barrios of before, the Guangzhou Daily cries. Nandu laments that what could be an interesting strike partnership between Elkeson and Barrios will not be able to work its magic in the Asian Champions League, where due to restrictions on foreign players, Evergrande have plumped for Barrios.
Of course one mighty clever way around this would be to make your foreign stars Chinese, which seems to be what Muriqui has planned. In Xinkuai, Muriqui tries to explain the growing speculation that he will become a Chinese citizen. “I didn’t actually ask to become a citizen, it was a journalist who asked whether I would if the conditions were right. I said no problem”. Cue media frenzy. Muriqui goes on to say that the matter is really out of his hands and that he would have to be invited by the relevant authorities. Another small problem may also be, Nandu writes, that Chinese law does not allow dual citizenship.
So from one Evergrande star who’s desperate to get out of the place, to another who seems desperate to get in. It’s just another week in Cantonese football.