Jubilation, frustration and despair in the north-east: Yanbian promoted to CSL one year after being relegated to 3rd tier
The north-eastern Super League clubs once again failed to make an impact last weekend with both Changchun and Liaoning failing to pick up three-points. Yanbian stuck to the script by securing promotion in Wuhan while Dalian Aerbin comfortably beat Qingdao Hainiu at home. Depressing scenes played out in Harbin as the fans showed their disappointment in the midst of allegations of match-fixing.
Disappointment in the Super League
With Shenhua looking ahead to their China Cup semi-final against Beijing BG next week it seemed that Yatai might be able to snatch a decent result on Saturday afternoon. However, this didn’t come to fruition as a Tim Cahill brace helped the home side stroll to a 3-0 win.
After just one and a half minutes, a panicky clearance allowed Momo Sissoko to run through the opposition box and latch onto Wang Yun’s assist to score his first Super League goal. Goalkeeper Wu Yake kept Yatai in the game with a series of three big saves, denying both Cahill and captain Moreno in the process. However, on 39 minutes some rookie level defending allowed Cahill to get in between the two Changchun centre-backs and convert Cao Yunding’s cross to get his first of the afternoon. After the break, Yatai striker Maazou missed the chance to put his side back in the game after seeing his header rattle the post while Cahill saw the exact same thing happen to him at the other end. With five minutes to go, Changchun lost possession in their own half, allowing Moreno and Cao Yunding to team up and find Cahill who scored with a neat finish to make it 3-0.
Liaoning Whowin travelled to fellow relegation candidates Hangzhou only to play out an uninspiring draw, with both teams failing to grab the chance to pull further away from the drop zone given that Teda, R&F and Renhe all failed to win their respective games. With two games to go against Shenhua and SIPG, and only three points separating Whowin with the drop zone, can they pull off something magical against the Shanghai teams and avoid relegation?
Jubilation for Yanbian in Wuhan
It has seemed like a long time coming, but Yanbian finally clinched promotion yesterday afternoon after drawing 0-0 with Wuhan Zall. While it might seem a shame that it was achieved on the back of a goalless draw, Changbaishan supporters will be less than worried and delighted that their team (who should have started the year in League Two but for the demise of Guangdong Sunray Cave) will be facing up against the Super League giants next season.
Some wonderful post-match scenes saw head coach Park Tae-ha hug every single player and member of staff while enjoying the adulation of the crowd. Fans held up banners saying, “15 years of waiting, just for today. Chinese Super League here we come!” It was certainly an emotional moment for the Jilin outfit and its supporters, now it’s time to look forward to their victory lap at home against Hunan Billows next week.
Dalian still in the promotion race
Dalian Aerbin kept themselves in contention for promotion after grabbing a 3-0 home victory against Qingdao Hainiu. With both Hebei and Beijing BG winning their respective games, it was vital that Aerbin took all three points if they wished to keep themselves in the race for the second ticket to the Super League. Goals from Sun Guowen and Mathias Ranegie either side of a Bruno penalty helped them do just that. A trip to Hohhot is next and victory there could push them into second if Hebei trip up against Guizhou.
Despair and bitterness in the Ice City
Since the controversial 2-2 draw against Dalian in which accusations of match-fixing were thrown around, Harbin’s game against Beijing BG was never going to be about the performance on the pitch.
The huge crowds that had filled the ICE Center Stadium with noise over the past two years were gone, with just over 5000 people turning up on Sunday afternoon. Most were there to express their anger and disappointment at what they believe was a ‘bought-match’, and to say goodbye to the club they had fallen in love with over the past few seasons.
The ‘ultra’ fans that have so passionately supported the club, walked into the stadium after fifteen minutes, dressed all in black with white masks covering their faces. They proceeded to the south stand, and unveiled a huge banner that had been a central part of their support over the past few years. Over the next hour, in an act of silent protest, they then ripped it into smithereens and left the stadium twenty minutes early.
Defender Yu Tao bore the brunt of the fans’ criticism during the match. His calamitous defending and refusal to celebrate with Adam Hughes after his last minute equalizer against Dalian two weeks ago confirmed fans’ suspicions that he was involved in a match fixing scandal. After 90 minutes of taunting and mockery from supporters, he stormed across the pitch and down the tunnel as soon as the final whistle was blown.
A sad day indeed for supporters of the Ice City club. It remains to be seen if this scandal will affect them in the long run, but it seems the club have lost the trust of the fans and that will be extremely hard to win back.