Guangzhou R&F sealed their place in next season’s Asian Champions League by beating Harbin 5 – 1 in their final game at Yuexiushan this year. The blue and whites fell behind before crowd favourites Lu Lin and Abderazzak Hamdallah saw their side over the finish line in emphatic style. Read on for the unashamedly celebratory final Yuexiushan News of the season .
Keen to cement their status as comeback kings or complacent against an already relegated Harbin side, the blue and whites went behind yet again before roaring back to win by a four goal margin. Harbin took the lead from a corner but then Jiang Ning capitalised on an error from their captain to equalise before Davi notched his 14th goal of the season with yet another penalty. Lu Lin tapped home from Jiang Zhipeng’s cross before the break and who else but goal machine Hamdallah finished the rout with a brace in the second half.
A little over three years ago, Guangzhou R&F didn’t even exist as it was Shenzhen Phoenix who were playing in China League One. A change of owner, city and name saw the birth of Guangzhou R&F who were promoted to the CSL along with Dalian Aerbin and went on to finish a place behind the dongbei side in 2012 and 2013. Sven bought wisely over the winter break and this year the Cantonese have improved on their previously woeful away record and showed a greater team sprit to clinch their best ever finish to a CSL season and book their place at the top table of Asian football next year. City rivals Evergrande may win the league again but that won’t detract much from the joy of R&F fans and for those who think finishing in the ACL places for the first time isn’t the same as winning a trophy, you try telling that to anyone who was at Yuexiushan last Sunday afternoon.
What a difference 18 months make. The last time the blue and whites visited Nanjing to play Jiangsu in the league they were struggling at the bottom of the CSL and looking clueless as Sergio Farias neared the end of his time as manager. Things were so bad that one of ’s more scathing match reports was published and a few games later Farias was out, Sven was in and things began to look up.
The ending of the last meeting between the sides just after the World Cup break, when Jiangsu looked to have snatched a point in stoppage time only to throw it away again, will live long in the memory but with Jiangsu preparing for the CFA Cup final and R&F now secure in third, it would be no surprise to see some players from the fringes of both squads being used this time around. Li Jianhua, Li Yan and Zhu Baojie in particular will be looking to get some game time for the Cantonese.
Regardless of the line-up or the result on Sunday, thoughts about whether or not R&F will be able to compete on two fronts next season and wonderings if Evergrande will throw away the league title, this is a time for fans of the blue and whites to live in the moment and celebrate an incredible achievement. Just thinking of those games against Asia’s finest under the lights at the grand old Yuexiushan Stadium next year has Yuexiushan News reaching for another bottle of Pearl River already. Ganbei!
Jiangsu Sainty v Guangzhou R&F kicks off at 3.35pm on Sunday