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League One Round 17 Preview and News Round-up

It’s been a very busy week down in the second tier with big money investments, headline-grabbing news conferences, high-profile new signings, a managerial sacking and five sides involved in CFA Cup action. We bring you up to speed with that as well as looking ahead to a week of action featuring a top of the table clash a Qingdao derby and a match-up between two struggling promotion favourites.

Yanbian Changbaishan vs Hebei CFFC

This is undoubtedly the big game of the week as league leaders Yanbian host third-placed Hebei. There is a six point margin between the sides but the visitors have a game in hand and could move within three points of Yanbian if they can hand them their first defeat of the season.

Edu shows off his new shirt

Edu shows off his new shirt

That will obviously be easier said than done against a side that has conceded just one goal in five games, but Hebei’s cause could be significantly boosted if their new big money signing Edu is able to start. The 33-year-old Brazilian made his name in Chinese football with some excellent performances for CSL side Liaoning Whowin in 2013 and cemented himself in the local football psyche when he scored an absolute blinder for Korean club Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors against Shandong Luneng in the AFC Champions’ League earlier this year.

Hebei reportedly paid $3 million to Jeonbuk for the attacker and he could earn up to $10 million if he sees out his two year contract. It’s a lot of money but, as Wednesday’s 2-1 CFA Cup defeat to Jiangsu Sainty shows, Hebei need players like Edu if they are to compete at the next level.

When these sides met in Hebei back in March, it ended 2-2 and it was seen as a surprise that Yanbian were able to claim a point. Things have changed a lot since then and a draw here would be considered a very good result for Hebei. In what ought to be a very tight game, it’s an outcome they may just be able to achieve. Prediction 1-1

Beijing BG vs Dalian Aerbin

BG and Dalian face off as two sides with very similar statuses as promotion favourites who are a little off the pace. The key difference is that this meeting comes at a time when the sides are on very different trajectories.

Capital Gains: Yan Xiangchuang celebrates putting BG ahead against Guo'an

Capital Gains: Yan Xiangchuang celebrates putting BG ahead against Guo’an

BG just advanced to the CFA Cup quarter finals with a historic derby victory over Guo’an, whereas Dalian have lost three straight. The news coming from the Liaoning coast this week is that Wanda are to invest 40 million into Aerbin allowing the company’s boss Wang Jianlin to resurrect his involvement in Dalian football (an excellent article on that here). Wanda will not take complete control of the club, but there is expected to be an upsurge in spending.

That is needed as Aerbin have become a selling club over the last year and more evidence of that came this week when goalkeeper Liu Weiguo was allowed to move to Guangzhou Evergrande. The club also reached a settlement for Zhou Tong to leave after the winger failed to register for the first part of the season over a wage dispute.

Conversely, BG are very much a buying club and they proved that again this week when they signed aging former Guo’an right back Wang Changqing from Shanghai Shenhua. Wang appeared as a substitute against his old club in midweek but, based on last season’s displays in Shanghai, may not be the kind of player BG need to take them to the next level.

Dalian are in trouble, and the effects of Wanda’s investment will be too late to save them here. BG should be able to ride the momentum of their cup win for this weekend at least. Prediction 2-1

Qingdao Jonoon vs Qingdao Hainiu

Hainiu players celebrated with Goran Gogic's shirt last week

Hainiu players celebrated with Goran Gogic’s shirt last week

The second Qingdao derby of the season arrives under a cloud as Hainiu continue to come to terms with the death of midfielder Goran Gogic. Last weekend, they claimed an emotional draw at home to Hunan less than 24 hours after the Serbian passed away and it remains to be seen what kind of shape the players will be in this week.

Dorde Rakic didn’t take the field for Hainiu last weekend, but he may return this time out and it’s interesting to note that, in amongst everything that happened last weekend, veteran striker Qu Bo came on as a substitute for his first appearance this season following a long term injury. The 33-year-old former Jonoon forward played nearly 80 times for the Chinese national team and it will be interesting to see if he takes the field against his old side.

In midweek, Jonoon demonstrated where their priorities lie this season by playing a weak team in the CFA Cup against Shanghai Shenhua and, thanks in large part to a horrendous performance from 21-year-old goalkeeper Wang Qi, lost 3-0. That means that most of Jonoon’s regulars will be fresh for this game, although they will be without defensive midfielder Jorge Claros who is away at the Concacaf Gold Cup with Honduras.

Hainiu were only formed in 2013 and so this is just the fourth outing of this derby. The bad news for the new boys is that they haven’t even managed a goal in any of the previous three. With all the sadness surrounding Hainiu over the past week, it would be great for them to claim an inspirational victory here. Unfortunately, Jonoon may just be too tough a prospect and look likely to extend their unbeaten record in this fixture. – Prediction 2-0

Tianjin Songjiang vs Wuhan Zall

When Songjiang won 1-0 in Wuhan earlier in the season, the narrative was all about Drazen Besek getting one over his former club. Things have changed a lot since then as Besek has been replaced by Goran Tomic and Songjiang have just come under the ownership of Quanjian Natural Medicine with a view to becoming the next Chinese football powerhouse.

Sun Ke (r) attended Quanjian's prees conference this week but he still plays for Jiangsu Sainty (for now)

Sun Ke (r) attended Quanjian’s prees conference this week but he still plays for Jiangsu Sainty (for now)

The details of their purchase were outlined in a press conference earlier this week and there has been a lot of braggadocios bluster coming from Quanjian. Chinese international Sun Ke attended the press conference to confirm he will, for now, return to Jiangsu Sainty following his failed transfer to TEDA, but that he will move to Songjiang should they make it to the Super League.

Indeed, there is some talk that Sun may move to Songjaing half way through next year if they are doing well, but the club have also made more signings in the here and now. 21-year-old midfielder Zheng Dalun arrives on a half season loan from Shanghai SIPG and 19-year-old forward Xiang Baixun comes in permanently after spending 18 months in France with the St-Etienne reserves.

Conversely, very little is happening in Wuhan as the team have all but thrown their promotion chances away with a run of five winless games. However, while Songjiang’s future under Quanjian’s ownership looks a lot brighter than Zall’s, the visitors still have a better team in the present. Unfortunately, that hasn’t translated into wins recently and we may see Songjiang involved in yet another draw. Prediction 2-2

Harbin Yiteng vs Jiangxi Liansheng

Bottom side Jiangxi come into this game with a new manager, having let go of Huang Yan and replaced him with Sun Wei. With just one win in their lat eleven games, it was clear that something had to change and the 3-2 loss to Guizhou Renhe in Tuesday’s CFA Cup fourth round may have been the final straw.

That game also saw the debut of goalkeeper Yu Yongzhe, who signed from Hangzhou Greentown, but he made an unconvincing start to his Liansheng career. The one positive from that clash was that Adi Rocha continued to show his worth by bagging two goals. The Brazilian forward has now scored five goals in two cup games against Super League opposition this season, and he’ll need to be at his best here if Jiangxi are to stand a chance here.

Yiteng remain unbeaten at home this season and it would be a huge surprise if that changed this weekend. Jiangxi continue to perform better than their league position suggests and of their nine losses this year, seven have been by a single goal. New manager or not, they may meet a similar fate this weekend. Prediction 2-1

Xinjiang vs Shenzhen FC

Xinjiang followed up their big win over Dalian last weekend with an even bigger one over Tianjin TEDA in the CFA Cup fourth round on Wednesday. The 1-0 home victory means Xinjiang join Beijing BG as League One representatives in the quarter-finals and there was more good news as Cristian Danalache continued his return to form.

Cristian Danalache on the ball against Tianjin TEDA

Cristian Danalache on the ball against Tianjin TEDA

The Romanian scored the winner against TEDA and found the back of the net against Dalian to end a relatively barren run of three without a goal. This weekend, he may be joined in the attack by Xinjiang’s new signing Rafael who has come from Mexican club Zacatepec. The Brazilian, who turns 23 on Monday, was in the stands for both of this week’s game and may take to the field for the first time against Shenzhen.

Speaking of Shenzhen, they will be hoping that their own summer arrival Kim Young-hoo continues to make the impact which saw him score two minutes into his debut last weekend. Shenzhen still went on to lose that match and continue a run of eight games without a win. With Xinjiang on a high and unbeaten at home this season, that streak could be extended to nine. Prediction 3-1

Hohhot Zhongyou vs Hunan Billows

Following last week’s win over Wuhan, Zhongyou will look to to put a halt to their habit of losing every other game which they have consistently done since round four. With their struggling offence, Hunan are good opponents to do that against and Hohhot won this game 3-0 in Changsha earlier in the season.

Hunan have gotten better since then but, unless they can change their status as the league’s lowest scorers, they will continue to struggle. On paper Hohhot should be favourites, but their failure to show consistency may scupper them here. Prediction 0-0

Guizhou Zhicheng vs Beijing Institute of Technology – Postponed

Like last week’s game against Hebei, BIT’s clash with Zhicheng has been postponed because of their players involvement in the Chinese football team at the World University Games in Gwangju. As noted in our last update, China lost their first two games and, since then, they have also fallen to Uruguay in their final group match.

BIT’s Guo Ziyin scored a late consolation in that game and, most recently, China overcame Chinese Taipei in the first round of the 9th-16th place classification competition. BIT captain Han Guanghui scored his third of the tournament during the 2-1 win and the team’s tournament continues when they take on Ukraine tomorrow.

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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