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AFC Champions League

Beijing bows out of ACL after defeat in Seoul

FC Seoul 3-1 Beijing Guoan (Agg. 3-1)
AFC Champions League Round of 16, Leg 2
Adilson 60′, Yun Il-lok 70′, Koh Myong-jin 90’+4; Kanoute 9′
Attendance: 14,437

Hope works in strange ways, there’s no reason Beijing Guoan fans should have had hope for their club’s chances to be one of the top 8 sides in Asia, but for an hour last night, there was indeed that hope. In the end it all turned out to be false as bad refereeing and odd managerial decisions saw the Chinese side return to the one that has so frustrated their fans for much of this season.

With a rash of injuries, Beijing started last night without two key players, youngsters Lei Tenglong and Wang Hao were given starts for Zhou Ting and Wang Xiaolong, both injured over the weekend against Tianjin. The choice of Wang, who only has one previous start this season and has played a total of 52 minutes for the first team in 2013, was surprising.

However, things started out looking up for the Beijingers when a lucky bounce and haphazard defending saw Freddie Kanoute put the visitors up 1-0 early in the 1st half. Now Guoan had the lead and an all important away goal, they just had to hold onto it for the next 80 minutes. That they held on through the first half can only be credited to keeper Yang Zhi, who came up with numerous big saves throughout the match.

Seoul continued to press throughout the second half, but Yang turned them back. Manager Stanojevic made an unusual decision in the 54th minute, taking off Joffre Guerron and bringing on Yang Yun. Yang would prove to be a waste and the decision would come back to haunt the manager as the match wore on.

Things started to get weird around the hour mark, Dejan Damjanovic missed a penalty, but within a few minutes the Korean side equalized when a defensive mistake let Adilson tap one in on an empty goal. Ten minutes later another defenisve mixup on Guoan’s part saw Yun Il-lok blast one past Yang to give the Koreans a lead.

A very suspect offside call led to Kanoute being shown a second yellow in the 80th minute, making a Guoan comeback all the less likely. When Adilson was shown red three minutes from time, there was a bit of hope that Guoan could secure an equalizer and earn a victory, hopes were dashed a mere two minutes later when Zhang Xinxin was shown a second yellow and then, in extra time, a roving Yang Zhi led to a third Seoul goal.

The run exceeded the expectations of most Beijing fans, but at the same time it left a bad taste in fans’ mouths as their conversations are sure to be punctured with a lot of “ifs” today. It was a great run and shows Guoan isn’t that far off from seriously competing in Asia, but there are still many changes required.

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. Damian Jones

    22/05/2013 at 12:04

    I thought this was a great game of football, I really enjoyed watching and feel Guoan can hold their heads high. I have issue with Beijing’s tactics between 25th – 60th minute. I thought that they were out on their feet and were content to just hold out. However, after 1-1 and 2-1, Beijing proved that they were not out on their feet and were able to attack and enjoy good positions. This leads me to believe that the 25-60th minute section was a tactical error, happy to allow the Koreans to dominate possession and hope to hit them on the counter. Instead, they allowed Seoul to build momentum. Still, good effort.
    FC Seoul look a class team with the ball (although they tend to over-elaborate at times) and must be the favourites for the ACL title.

  2. Steve Crooks

    22/05/2013 at 21:49

    Not sure about Seoul as favorites — trying to deflect some expectations from Hengda?

    Guo’an reasonably comprehensively outplayed Seoul in the first leg — if they’d been a little more decisive at home then the second leg might have been even more if a close-run thing.

    • bcheng

      22/05/2013 at 23:14

      ah yes, you’re quickly coming to play the “what ifs” game that crushes the soul of all Guoan fans. If they would have managed to score playing 11 v 10 for 20 minutes in Beijing, there wouldn’t have been quite so much pressure last night…but then again, if they would have done that, it would be so unlike Guoan.

  3. Yenster

    22/05/2013 at 21:51

    Should have packed your bags the moment Mohsen Torky was named ref as he gave out his usual penalty and red cards against another Chinese team.

  4. Mark Dreyer

    22/05/2013 at 23:53

    Thanks for the insights, and yes the “what ifs” will haunt the fans for months…or until next year’s competition. Not sure about the last sentence though: not far away or many changes required?!

    • bcheng

      23/05/2013 at 07:49

      I’m sorry, what I mean by that is that Guoan went up against some of Asia’s top sides (Bunyodkor, FC Seoul, Pohang Steelers) and showed that they can go head-to-head against them. So it’s obvious Beijing can compete in Asia. At the same time, it’s equally obvious to anyone who has watched the side over the last month or two that there are glaring holes in the roster, especially when it comes to depth, but even in the starting XI.

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