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League One Round 16 Wrap: Emotions Run High in Qingdao, Honours Even in Tianjin and Dalian Lose Again

Results on the field seemed less important this week following the sudden death of Qingdao Hainiu midfielder Goran Gogic. But the league played on regardless as round 16 saw an unsurprisingly emotionally charged draw in Qingdao. Elsewhere, the the second tier Jing-jin derby ended in a draw and Dalian fell to defeat in Xinjiang. Harbin Yiteng missed a chance to play catch-up when they were held by Qingdao Jonoon, Yanbian Changbaishan actually conceded a goal as they won again and Shenzhen FC finally slipped into the relegation zone.

Qingdao Hainiu 1-1 Hunan Billows

Football was of secondary importance when Hainiu hosted Hunan less than 24 hours after their midfielder Goran Gogic passed away. The 29-year-old Serbian suffered a cardiac arrest on the bus following a training session the day before and was pronounced dead in hospital later that evening.

A minutes silence to was held before Hainiu vs Hunan to honour Goran Gogic

A minutes silence to was held before Hainiu vs Hunan to honour Goran Gogic

To honour Gogic, a minutes silence was held before the game, players wore black armbands and his number 8 shirt was placed by the side of the field. Unsurprisingly, his compatriot Dorde Rakic didn’t play, but Wang Xuanhong was given his first start of the season after scoring ten minutes into his first substitute appearance of the year last week.

Fittingly, Hainiu opened the scoring when Gao Xiang struck in the 19th minute. The Hainiu players ran towards Gogic’s shirt and lifted it to the sky in an emotional celebration. Hunan struck back on the half hour mark when Luis Jose Cabezas scored his first of the season and Hainiu goalkeeper Liu Peng saved his side from defeat when he stopped a Li Xiang penalty in the second half.

Ultimately, though, the result was of little consequence and several members of the Hainiu club were in tears at the final whistle. Centre back Wan Houliang was particularly hard hit as he had spent three years in Serbia as a youth player and was especially close to Gogic. Manager Su Maozhen unable to complete his post-match press conference without breaking down and the question must be raised whether it was appropriate to play this game at all.

Of course, it gave Hainiu players and staff a chance to pay tribute to Gogic, but this could have been done at a later date and one fixture this weekend (see below) has already been put off until September’s international weekend. When Bolton Wanderers’ Fabrice Muamba almost died from an on field cardiac arrest in March 2012, the Premier League allowed the club to postpone its upcoming fixtures until they were ready to play. Perhaps the CFA should have shown a similar amount of compassion on this occasion.

Tianjin Songjiang 1-1 Beijing BG

An 80th minute header from Franck Nouble cancelled out Yan Xianchuang’s 22nd minute opener to ensure the teams shared the points in front of a crowd reported to number over 15,000. The attendance is a record for Songjiang and can be attributed to a number of factors.

The club capitalised on the interest in a local derby pitting Songjiang coach Goran Tomic against the club that unceremoniously sacked him last summer by giving away free tickets and offering free parking. There is also a lot of excitement surrounding Quanjian Natural Medicine’s decision to abandon their stake in city rivals Tianjin TEDA in order to purchase Songjiang.

Some TEDA fans are reportedly dissatisfied with the club’s decision to pull out of the Sun Ke transfer and there has been some talk of supporters defecting to the second tier club. Interestingly, it’s also been pointed out in the Chinese media that TEDA’s last home game, a 3-0 defeat to Chongqing Lifan, attracted only 8,700 fans (although it was in midweek).

Bright Start: Songjiang's Franck Nouble has scored two goals in his first two games

Bright Start: Songjiang’s Franck Nouble has scored two goals in his first two games

On the field, there is cause for optimism that Songjiang will be much improved in the second half of the season. Nouble’s goal was his second in as many games since arriving from Coventry City and he is spearheading an attack that looks much stronger than it did in the first half of the season. Winger Li Xingcan returned from the suspension he received for “pushing” a referee two weeks ago and he joins Mario Lucio and Guangzhou R&F loanee Zhang Shuo in the attacking midfield three.

Songjiang’s cause was helped by the absence of centre back Eder Lima from BG’s line-up and the visitors continue in their struggle to put a decent run of results together. Attention now turns to Wednesday’s Beijing derby where BG host Guo’an in the CFA Cup fourth round. Tickets, the majority of which were likely snapped up by Guo’an fans, sold out in just eight minutes for what is likely to be a big occasion.

Yanbian Changbaishan 2-1 Jiangxi Liansheng

Yanbian extended their lead at the top of League One to five points, but made hard work of a stubborn Jiangxi side. With these teams sitting at polar opposites of the table, Jiangxi’s hopes of claiming a point were dealt a serious blow in the seventh minute when Jailton Paraiba was brought down in the area by Jiangxi goalkeeper Wu Fei.

Yanbian players celebrate with Ha Tae-goon who is reportedly close to signing a deal to stay

Yanbian players celebrate with Ha Tae-goon who is reportedly close to signing a deal to stay

Ha Tae-goon converted from the spot, but his side toiled for the rest of the first half and were unlucky not to concede a penalty of their own when left back Wu Yongchun blocked a cross with his hand. The referee awarded a free kick on the edge of the box, but replays showed it was just inside the area.

Early in the second half, Yanbian came out firing and had several chances before Ha rolled a low 20-yard effort in off the post in the 53rd minute. It was the South Korean’s fourteenth goal of the season and although he has not yet signed a deal to extend his loan agreement beyond this month, the club is confident an agreement will be reached by the end of this week.

Jiangxi continued to battle and were given a lifeline six minutes from the end when Yanbian right back Jiang Hongquan aimed a well placed header beyond his own goalkeeper when under absolutely no pressure. The bizarre own goal was the first Yanbian had conceded in over nine hours of football, but it didn’t matter as they held on for the victory.

At full time, Jiangxi refused to shake hands due to their anger at the penalty decisions and that may also have reflected a wider frustration at recent good performances not being rewarded with results. They are now three points adrift at the bottom, and face a CFA Cup fourth round clash with CSL strugglers Guizhou Renhe this evening.

Xinjiang 3-1 Dalian Aerbin

Xinjiang came from behind to preserve their unbeaten home record and hand Dalian a third consecutive defeat. Bruno Meneghel had opened the scoring in 36th minute, but the Brazilian’s twelfth goal of the season was cancelled out by Cristian Danalache just two minutes later. 64th and 75th minute strikes from Dong Zhiyuan secured Xinjiang’s victory and gave them a positive start to a run of five straight home games.

The loss piles pressure on to Aerbin boss Mikael Stahre as is leaves his side nine points adrift of league leaders Yanbian Changbaishan and four points behind second place Qingdao Jonoon. Xinjiang are now four points clear of the relegation zone, but their attention now turns to the CFA Cup fourth round where they will be hoping to repeat their third round heroics when they take on Tianjin TEDA on Wednesday night.

Harbin Yiteng 1-1 Qingdao Jonoon

Jonoon goal scorer Ismael Beko Fofana takes a tumble against Yiteng

Jonoon goal scorer Ismael Beko Fofana takes a tumble against Yiteng

Jonoon followed up last week’s stalemate in Yanbian by grabbing their second impressive road point in as many games. Ismael Beko Fofana gave the visitors the lead in the 64th minute, but centre back Wang Dalong maintained Harbin’s unbeaten home record when he headed in a Bu Xin cross five minutes from time.

Conceding a late equaliser may take the shine of the result, but the draw is a good achievement for Jonoon who took advantage of Hebei CFFC’s postponed game to move into second. When one considers that they lost 4-1 to Harbin on the opening day of the season and were without the suspended Jorge Claros and injured Zhu Jianrong, the draw looks increasingly impressive.

The draw was Harbin’s tenth of the season and means they miss the opportunity to pull themselves within one point of the promotion places. Jonoon host Shanghai Shenhua in the CFA Cup this Wednesday.

Guizhou Zhicheng 2-1 Shenzhen FC

Shenzhen players celebrate Kim Young-hoo's early goal

Shenzhen players celebrate Kim Young-hoo’s early goal

A rapid debut goal from Shenzhen’s Kim Young-hoo counted for nothing as Shenzhen lost in Guizhou and completed what has felt like an inevitable slide into the relegation zone. South Korean striker Kim, who had signed from second tier Korean side Gangwon FC just a few days previously, took just two minutes to open his account with his new side.

Unfortunately for the visitors, Yves Ekwalla Herman levelled courtesy of a Rodrigo assist just three minutes later and Wang Jun gave Zhicheng the lead with a direct free kick three minutes before half-time. Things almost got worse for Shenzhen in the 49th minute when Herman was fouled inside the box, but Rodrigo’s penalty struck the post.

The result moves an increasingly accomplished looking Zhicheng into the top ten, but also means that Shenzhen have now gone eight games without a win. In order to try an rectify their slump, a number of changes have been made to the squad with several players dropped to the reverses in order to make space for those moving the other way.

To allow for Kim’s arrival without exceeding the foreign player quota, centre back Giuseppe Aquaro has been released and youngsters Ding Guoliang and Liu Wenzhi have been signed from the respective Super League reserve teams of Henan Jianye and Shanghai Shenxin. It’s clear that manager Lee Lim-saeng thinks things need to change. Whether it works remains to be seen.

Hohhot Zhongyou 1-0 Wuhan Zall

A 68th minute strike from William Paulista was enough to give Zhongyou victory. Brice Jovial almost rescued a point for the visitors in stoppage time, but his effort hit the post as Wuhan are now five without a win.

Zall remain in seventh, just one point ahead of Zhongyou and a seemingly insurmountable seven points adrift of second place Qingdao Jonoon.

Beijing Institute of Technology vs Hebei CFFC – Postponed

As noted in our preview, this game has been postponed until September as almost half of BIT’s squad is representing China in the World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea. So far, China have played two games in that competition with the vast majority of their starting line-up coming from BIT.

Unfortunately, those matches have ended in a 3-2 defeat to Russia and a 1-0 loss to Ireland. BIT captain Han Guanghui has grabbed headlines in both contests by scoring a brace in the first and getting sent off in the second.

The break means Hebei are the only team competing in the CFA Cup fourth round that don’t have to play this weekend. They will host Jiangsu Sainty on Wednesday and are currently surrounded by speculation that they are trying to sign striker Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo from Premier League side Watford for £10 million.


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.

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