League One Round 16 Preview: A Jing-Jin Derby in Tianjin and Top vs Bottom in Yanbian
The second half of the League One season gets under way with teams now facing each other for the second time this year. There’s a local derby in Tianjin, where Songjiang will be hoping to make a good impression on their new owners. Top side Yanbian Changbaishan look to have the points in the bag when they host table proppers Jiangxi Liansheng and Harbin Yiteng battle Qingdao Jonoon in the week’s highest quality fixture. Elsewhere, there’s belated transfer news in Hohhot and Beijing Institute of Technology vs Hebei CFFC is postponed while the hosts do their patriotic duty.
Tianjin Songjiang vs Beijing BG
Songjiang made the headlines this week with the news that Quanjian Natural Medicine plan to purchase the club with a view to guiding them to the Super League through heavy investment. Provided Songjiang avoid relegation to League Two this season, they will be known as Tianjin Quanjian from 2016 and are likely to make a slew of big money purchases in the coming year.
An official announcement is expected to be made at a press conference on July 10th and it’s fitting that this week’s opponents are Beijing BG as they are a side whose new owners have spent a lot of money trying to get them to the Super League. As a glance at the league table shows, though, things haven’t quite worked out in the capital and Songjiang’s manager, Goran Tomic, would love to heap more misery upon opposite number Aleksander Stanojevic.
Aside from the fact that a win would help Tomic’s men move further away from the relegation zone, it would also give the Croatian revenge against the team who sacked him last season despite the fact he guided them to an unexpected fourth placed finish and was named League One manager of the season.
The Beijing Enterprises Group wanted a big name manager to go with their big money purchase and so they ditched Tomic in favour of former Beijing Guo’an boss Stanojevic. Tomic resurfaced with Songjiang in May and has lost just one game in seven while dragging them out of the relegation zone. All of this adds colour to what is already the second tier version of the fiercely contested Jing-Jin derby.
Last weekend, new signings Franck Nouble and Zhang Shuo had an immediate impact on Songjiang’s fortunes by scoring a goal and winning a penalty, and they will hope to continue their positive start. BG managed to win in Hohhot and, despite patchy form, somehow remain within four points of the top two.
Tomic has proven himself to be somewhat of a draw specialist over the last two seasons and so it would be appropriate for this game to end in the same way.We could well see a few goals though. Prediction 2-2
Harbin Yiteng vs Qingdao Jonoon
Jonoon travel to Harbin on a high after going to Yanbian and holding the league leaders to a goalless draw last week. Having lost 4-1 at home to Harbin in the first week of the season, they may be happy with another stalemate here, but their opponents will see this as a great opportunity to claw their way back into the promotion race.
Harbin will be without Colombian striker Jair Reinoso who manager Duan Xin admitted will be moved on from the club as soon as his injury has been properly assessed. In front of their always passionate fans, Yiteng ought do just fine without him and should be able to claim three points despite Jonoon’s best defensive efforts. Prediction 1-0
Xinjiang vs Dalian Aerbin
Xinjiang begin a run of five consecutive home matches when Dalian come to Urumqi. The hosts are unbeaten on their own territory this season and Dalian come into the match following back to back losses. That being said, Aerbin romped to a 4-0 win when these two sides played each other on the opening day of the season.
Xinjiang have already announced that Brazilian forward Felipe Ferro has been released and, as he hasn’t been replaced yet, they will be a foreign player short. They may also be without winger Shewqet Yalqun whose loan period from Guangzhou Evergrande has come to an end. It may be possible, though, that the loan is extended in time for him to play.
Dalian will be without the suspended Jin Qiang, but should still have enough to get a result in Urumqi. Handing Xinjiang their first home defeat of the season may be a step too far though. Prediction 1-1
Yanbian Changbaishan vs Jiangxi Liansheng
It’s top at home to bottom in what is surely the most predictable fixture of the week. Yanbian may have been held at home in the last round by Qingdao Jonoon, but they remain unbeaten all season and haven’t conceded a goal in their last five.
Jiangxi were unable to unlock the league’s worst defense last weekend and, although Adi Rocha and Jaja will be returning from suspension, it’s hard to see them breaking down the league’s best this time. When one also considers that Yanbian will have all of their foreign stars on the pitch at once for the first time in five games, it’s hard to imagine anything other than a comfortable home win. Prediction 3-0
Qingdao Hauniu vs Hunan Billows
Su Maozhen returns to the Hainiu dugout following a one match ban, and will preside over a game likely to be short on goals. Hainiu are averaging exactly a goal a game this year, while Hunan are doing even worse with just twelve in fifteen. It’s perhaps no surprise that the game ended scoreless last time these sides met, and we are unlikely to see many goals this time around.
Hunan have drawn a blank in their last two outings with Li Xiang’s goals drying up and Colombian striker Luis Jose Cabezas still yet to find the net this year. Their defense is getting better, but a third straight 1-0 defeat for Billows is a distinct possibility. Prediction 1-0
Hohhot Zhongyou vs Wuhan Zall
Wuhan edged a tight encounter 1-0 when these sides clashed on the opening day of the season and this is likely to be an equally hard fought affair. Last weekend, Zhongyou handed debuts to new midfield signings Wang Fei and Li Shuai, but both were subbed off before the end of a 2-0 defeat at home to Beijing BG.
Wang arrived on a half season loan from Shanghai Shenhua where he has made three league appearances this season. Inauspiciously, the one start among those saw him getting hooked at half time, while another resulted in him picking up two bookings in less than half an hour as a substitute. Li Shuai comes on a permanent move from League Two Yinchuan Helanshan, but he only made it to half time on his debut.
Wuhan may not have much to fear from Zhongyou’s two new acquisitions, but they have worries of their own. Four games without a win have kept them six points behind the top two and they are facing the second of four straight away matches. They may well slip further behind the pace here. Prediction 1-1
Guizhou Zhicheng vs Shenzhen FC
Shenzhen’s dreadful season will take yet another downward turn should they lose in Guizhou. Last weekend’s 1-1 at home to Hebei was a decent result, but Zhicheng have performed above expectations this year and will fancy their chances of beating a team that hasn’t won in seven.
Shenzhen may turn out with the five man back line they switched to last week, but Zhicheng have shown enough in recent weeks to suggest that they can break the visitors down. A defeat and more misery may be how Shenzhen kick off the second half of the season. Prediction 2-1
Beijing Institute of Technology vs Hebei CFFC – Postponed
This match has been postponed until September 5th due to BIT’s participation in the Word University Games in Gwangju, South Korea. As the China University Football League champions of 2015, thirteen of their first team squad will travel to the competition to represent the China men’s team.
Obviously, with such a large contingent making the trip, BIT were unable to fulfill this fixture and have been granted special dispensation to delay it. Next week’s match away to Guizhou Zhicheng is scheduled to go ahead, but may be rearranged if China make it deep into the tournament.
Author: Jamie McIlroy
Based in China for five years, Jamie has been exploring tiny little third tier Hubei cities without football teams or decent internet connections, but is now a regular at China League One side Wuhan Zall.
A keen football afficionado, he regularly takes in the Chinese Super League, enjoying matches in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Nanjing.
Jamie is also a keen observer of the fortunes of the Chinese National side.