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WEF Exclusive – Ryan Johnson: Henan anxious to get their first win

Henan Jianye have had a positive start in their first four games of the 2014 Chinese Super League losing just once to defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande but have yet to win a game having drawn with Changchun Yatai, Dalian Aerbin and Shanghai Shenhua.

Jamaica international forward Ryan Johnson has had his part to play in his new clubs good start but admits exclusively to Wild East Football that his side are anxious for their first 3 points.

“The feeling is positive in camp and we are anxious to get our first win but we are focusing on the performances. We’ve had good games but just need to finish each game better,” said the 29 year old.

Henan battled to a 0-0 draw at Shanghai Shenhua this weekend but it was the previous fixture that has thus far brought the most satisfaction to Johnson, a 2-2 draw against Dalian Aerbin where he bagged his first goal for the club.

“It felt good to get my first goal but it felt better getting it in front of the home fans.”

“I have been with the team for just a few weeks so I shouldn’t be starting over guys who have been fighting since pre-season for starting positions,” he said on his performances to date.

Johnson joined Henan as the winter transfer window closed from Major League Soccer side Portland Timbers having previously had spells at San Jose Earthquakes and Toronto FC in the same league.

Capped 36 times by Jamaica and with 8 international goals to his name, the Kingston native seems a big capture for Henan and already is seeing the footballing differences himself following his China move.

“The quality of the football is good, not as athletic as the MLS as there are too many pure athletes in America but the speed of play is fast here and I enjoy it. There are definite similarities, [between the CSL and MLS in terms of signings] every big name player has their reasons to move to another league,” he said.

“I was looking for a new challenge away from the USA, I’m happy with my decision and adapting to China fine. I am still learning new things here and I’m currently finding an apartment for my family.”

With Johnson settling in with Henan, what are his thoughts on a big move in the other direction, England international Jermaine Defoe moving to his old club Toronto FC?

“It’s a great move for the league to get a player like him [Defoe]. I think he will see that there are a lot of good players in MLS and it’s not an easy league to succeed in,” he said.

Johnson will likely find the CSL equally surprising as Henan prepare for a rough next four games at home to league leaders Shanghai SIPG, Guangzhou R&F away, Guizhou Renhe at home and Shandong Luneng away.

Beijing-based Peter Davis has followed Chinese football since 2008 and is a regular contributor to Wild East Football. He can be found on Twitter and @peteydavis

Pete is from Sheffield, England and came to China in 2008 initially living in Shenyang where he witnessed his first CSL game, Liaoning Whowin v Chengdu Blades. Pete is a fanatic Sheffield Wednesday fan but has picked up football allegiances from various trips, Galatasary in Turkey, Piacenza in Italy and Muangthong United in Thailand. In early 2009 he moved to Beijing and after a brief time started attending Guoan games regularly. Pete graduated in Journalism in the UK and has written for several educational publications on Chinese education for his day job as well as Chinese football for WEF which he wishes was more developed but avidly follows the Imperial Guards on their quest for CSL supremacy regardless.

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