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The North-East View: Changchun rebound from back to back losses

It’s been a difficult few weeks for fans of Changchun Yatai, after watching the side fall short against Shandong Luneng (1-0) and fellow dongbei side Harbin Yiteng (2-0). But on manager Dragan Okuka’s return to his former club Jiangsu Sainty, Changchun found their scoring touch and won 2-0 to send them eighth in the Chinese Super League table.

The Past
Changchun’s fans were beginning to feel like the team could push for a solid top-ten finish this season, having narrowly avoided relegation last year, but results began to cast doubt over the team and whether or not they could maintain that position.

Falling to Shandong 1-0 and Harbin 2-0 at home made many wonder what would happen. The loss to Harbin was particularly painful for fans due to Harbin’s position in the league as well as them being close rivals who claimed ‘the double’ over Changchun this season.

With the two losses Changchun slipped back into eleventh place in the league. Fans began to wonder if the team would continue to slip back down the ranks and end up hovering above the relegation zone at season’s end. Only the hope of putting together some good results remained with Okuka’s return to Jiangsu up next.

The Present
With Changchun defeating Okuka’s former team 2-0, they climbed back into the top-ten and are currently sitting at eighth, as of 27th September. Tianjin and Hanghzhou (9th and 10th respectively) are on the same points as Changchun, at 30, but have a game-in-hand. Should both teams lose their games-in-hand then Changchun will remain in 8th based on a better goal difference.

Beciraj scored 2 goals against Jiangsu, taking his total to 6 this season

Beciraj scored 2 goals against Jiangsu, taking his total to 6 this season

Changchun fans will be hoping that Fatos Beciraj has re-discovered his ability to score. He scored both goals in Changchun’s 2-0 victory against Jiangsu and they will be hoping he can make a larger contribution to the team than he has been able to in recent outings.

Results, like those against Shandong and Harbing, will not be acceptable to Changchun fans as the team has shown the potential to be a solid top-ten team and should be aiming to maintain that position going into next season.

If Changchun were to finish 8th this season, fans would be delighted at the progress the team has made since Okuka took over. Hopes for next season will be elevated and should the team be able to maintain their current position, they play Tianjin next week and Hangzhou on the last day of the season, then fans may begin to talk about the former glory days coming back under Okuka.

The Future
Tianjin awaits next weekend, with Changchun playing at home on the 4th September. Changchun will hope to take all 3 points from them as it can boost their chances of staying in the top ten and even aiming for 8th, a strong showing against Tianjin will show fans Changchun means business.

Dragan Okuka has seen a turn around in Changchun's fortunes

Dragan Okuka has seen a turn around in Changchun’s fortunes

One hope for next season is that Okuka will take the CFA Cup more seriously. He played a vastly-understrength team against Qingdao Jonoon this season and lost 3-2 as a result.

Changchun have not won any silverware since 2007 and a good CFA Cup run could enthuse Changchun’s fans and looking at the teams that are playing in the semi-final this season;

Shandong Luneng,
Shanghai Shenhua,
Jiangsu Sainty
Qingdao Hainiu,

There’s no reason why Changchun shouldn’t or couldn’t be in this conversation.

Changchun has beaten Shanghai and Jiangsu this season and Qingdao Hainiu have punched well-above their weight with this spectacular cup run and Changchun has the strength of squad to push for silverware next season.

The league is always the goal, but for a Changchun side that could potentially finish 8th this season the CFA Cup should also be something the players and management staff will be hoping they can achieve to bring some smiles to the faces of the Changchun faithful.

James Reeve is a British sports writer and editor for Wild East Football. James is an avid fan of Changchun Yatai, having been a season-ticket holder in 2015, and has been involved with Wild East Football for a number of years.

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