Guangdong Sunray Cave 1-0 Hubei Huakaier
China League One Round 3
Mahama Awal ’72
A second half goal from the Cameroonian Mahama Awal was enough for Guangdong Sunray Cave to win a game played in appalling conditions in the Cantonese capital. 823 turned up to witness what was at times farcical football because of the waterlogged pitch.
Guangdong has been hit hard by early spring storms and Saturday was no exception as a torrential downpour delayed the kick-off by twenty minutes. Both sides sheltered from the elements for as long as possible and did their warm-ups and stretching inside before going into the rain to practice for ten minutes or so.
The warm up hinted at what the next ninety minutes would bring and the opening move confirmed it as the waterlogged pitch at the Provincial People’s Stadium made passing the ball accurately on the ground nearly impossible as it would frequently stop in puddles. Ironically given the typhoon that was raging around them, the players almost looked like they were playing beach football so keen were they to keep the ball of the floor.
In the conditions ‘route one’ football was the order of the day and it almost paid dividends for Sunray Cave when striker Dori was through on goal only to see his effort saved. Playing in a face mask, Hubei captain Zhou Yi and his centre back partner Quiarol Arzu were both solid throughout at the back against Guangdong’s pair of hard-working strikers.
The rain meant there were few chances in the first half and it was coming down so hard that the roof couldn’t take the strain anymore and one of the corrugated iron panels collapsed at half time. Luckily the crowd was so sparse that there was nobody anywhere near when it fell in.
Both sides came out for the second half in new kits as did the referee although his purple shirt looked very similar to the navy blue of the Hubei players which the crowd weren’t happy about. So unhappy that they switched to chanting in Mandarin rather than Cantonese to let the referee know that he needed to get his yellow shirt back on.
The other change at half time came when Guangdong brought on Hong Kong native Chan Siu Ki to play upfront. It was Hubei who had the next, and their best of the game, chance though when Tong Xiaoxing ran onto a through ball only to see his shot saved by Yu Yongzhe in the Guangdong goal; a very similar situation to Dori in the first half.
With the rain all but stopped Sunray Cave scored from a freekick that Argentinian Carlos Garcia headed back across the area to Awal who poked home from the edge of the six yard box. The waterlogged pitch was used to good effect here with some fantastic sliding celebrations.
Hubei threw on their three substitutes but although the rain had stopped the pitch was still waterlogged and they couldn’t conjure a goal in the final twenty minutes despite the best efforts of the twenty fans who’d made the trip down south.
Sunray Cave saw out the final minutes comfortably enough and will be happy to take the three points from a game which the elements turned into a lottery. Their third straight win keeps the Cantonese side joint top of the table but for Hubei their third straight loss since promotion has them rock bottom. However, perhaps the most unhappy group will be the team of groundsmen who will have to put in a lot of hard work to restore the pitch before the next match.