Domestic football has returned and after the appetiser of the CFA Cup in midweek, the main course of CSL action resumes on Saturday. Both Guangzhou R&F and Jiangsu Sainty had strong starts to the season and only a few points separate the pair; will either be caught cold on the restart?
Guangzhou R&F have so far only made one signing during the transfer window, Nigerian striker Aaron Samuel Olanare arriving from Norway. Sven had wanted to add an extra domestic centre back to cover for Zhang Hyun-Soo who reportedly has a clause in his contract which allows him to represent Korea in the Asian Games in September but the return from injury of Zhao Ming after 2 years out will help. Davi missed training in midweek but is expected to be able to play on Saturday.
Off the pitch, the blue and whites have launched their own energy drink called Vigor +; look out for the blue and yellow bottles with pictures of players past and present on.
Last Time Out
The blue and whites dispatched Guizhou Zhicheng 3-1 in the third round of the CFA Cup. Zhicheng are in the Chinese third tier league so the Cantonese were not allowed to use any foreign players but avoided the utter humiliation and embarrassment Shenhua suffered losing to Dali last year thanks to goals from Xu Bo, Zhang Shuo and Zhu Baojie. Expect plenty of changes for Saturday’s game.
Jiangsu also won the right to play in the fourth round with a 2-1 victory in Changsha against Hunan Xiangtao thanks to goals from Sun Ke and Deng Zhuoxiang.
Stats of the week
Guangzhou R&F have never beaten Jiangsu. The five meeting between the two sides have resulted in two losses and two draws in the league as well as a loss in the CFA Cup last year.
Photo of the week
Causes for Optimism…
The blue and whites had a strong start to the year and even after their difficult run of fixtures in May still went into the break in the third place in the CSL table. Ken Islo was a peripheral figure during his time at the club so Olanare should offer more than the Dane in attack but return of Park Jong-Woo from World Cup duty is more important as the Korean midfielder’s tough tackling has been missed.
Jiangsu signed Dejan Damjanovic over the winter but he has now been sold to Beijing Guoan so the Cantonese defence won’t have to deal with the Asian Ibrahimovic and can focus on keeping Elias and Sun Ke quiet instead.
… and for Concern
The R&F treatment table seems relatively empty and with only Xu Bo suspended, a loss here would leave Sven with few obvious excuses.
Jiangsu may have lost Dejan but in Sun Ke they have one of the increasingly few national teamers not playing for Evergrande. Jiang Zhipeng’s positioning has left something to be desired at times and the fullback will have to be on his best form to deal with Sun’s threat.
Watch Out For
New signing Aaron Olanare is unlikely to start but Sven has said he will be considered for selection on the bench. If he comes on it will be a first chance for the youngster to impress the Yuexiushan faithful. Comparisons will no doubt be made with his fellow countryman Yakubu who wore the number 25 shirt before, and coincidently scored 25 goals, and YNP for one hopes that Olanare shows more commitment than Yakubu.
Jiangsu aren’t in fifth for nothing but if the blue and whites are to qualify for the ACL then they need to keep their momentum from the first half of the season going and they have the quality to win 2-1.
R&F as predicted by the Yuexiushan News and Review:
P 14 W 6 D 4 L 4 GF 19 GA 17 GD +2 Pts 22
R&F according to the CSL table:
P 14 W 7 D 4 L 3 GF 27 GA 15 GD +12 Pts 25
Guangzhou R&F v Jiangsu Sainty kicks off at 7.30pm on Saturday. For a guide to attending click here