With Henan Jianye up next for Greentown, can they bounce back from a ludicrous red card and defeat in Beijing to secure more crucial points in the battle against relegation?
Loss at Gongti does little to dampen Greentown’s optimism
Without a win in the capital since 2012, Hangzhou Greentown’s hopes of securing a crucial (yet unlikely) three away points were extinguished when a slick Beijing Guoan move culminated in Zhang Xizhe breaking the deadlock in the 84th minute.
In a game where the home side dominated possession, Greentown undoubtedly held their own with Zou Dehai and Sammir both having particularly solid games. Had Chen Zhongliu and Gabionetta both made more of promising chances, Chen in particular squandering a chance following a fortuitous bounce from Ge Zhen’s cross from the right, Greentown could have left with much more.
Despite once again sitting perilously close to a relegation zone in which all incumbents of those dreaded positions continue to pick up points, there is much cause for optimism. After being thoroughly exposed and outplayed in this seasons two previous meetings between the sides, the defeat serves as an excellent barometer of the turnaround witnessed in this Greentown side. Once CSL cannon fodder, Greentown are one of a number of unpredictable sides fighting in the relegation battle but performances like this show how Greentown have given themselves a credible hope of remaining a CSL team come the end of the season.
Ge Zhen handed harsh punishment for farcical injury time red card
A 51st minute booking for unused Guoan substitute Zhang Chengdong indicated that referee Shi Zhenlu wasn’t in most forgiving of moods, however heads are still being collectively scratched trying to decipher Ge Zhen’s injury time red card. About to take a throw in, the Greentown right back was brandished with an unexplained yellow card, with time wasting (despite his side being 1-0 down) being the most likely reason, before immediately being given his marching orders upon the appearance of a second yellow card.
With the player himself, the Greentown bench and fans alike all bemused by the referee’s decision, the CFA have subsequently handed Ge an incredibly harsh looking four game suspension and RMB 20,000 fine for abuse directed towards the referee.
I’m all for referee’s stamping out dissent, however while whatever Ge said was probably deserving of a yellow, an unwarranted first yellow and the subsequent punishment had seen a wholly unnecessary incident end just as ludicrously as it began.
Greentown academy once again proved fruitful as Porto come calling
Although unheard of to all but the most diehard of Greentown supporters, the Greentown factory of youth has once again been raided with midfielder Yan Dinghao heading to Portuguese giants, FC Porto.
A member of the Chinese side who reached the U-19 Asian Cup quarter finals in 2014, Yan will no doubt be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Greentown youth product, Zhang Yuning who also moved abroad before making a single league appearance for the Hangzhou first team. Following his impact last year at Eredivisie side, Vitesse Arnhem and subsequently earning a call up to the Chinese team, Zhang’s success has so far vindicated his decision.
While Greentown cannot be happy to be losing another youth prospect before even having a chance to hand him his debut, it bodes well for the academy that European sides are considering them a legitimate source of potential talent.
Ever in need of more home grown stars to help capture the attention of the untapped portion of the domestic audience and grow the game means the impact of such transfers on Chinese football as a whole, is potentially not as constructive.
After being robbed of players such Zhang, Yan as well as Real Madrid’s Lin Liangming, the current trend of big European clubs hoarding young players in the hope of unearthing a gem represents a huge roll of the dice for the player concerned. With the potential to be propelled to stardom, nobody can blame these guys for heading abroad, particularly with the recently highlighted state of Chinese football infrastructure. However it remains unlikely that the consistent hemorrhaging of youth will help leagues such as the CSL develop and although it will continue to prove tough to keep talented youngsters out of the grasp of big clubs, this is perhaps another area of concern for the CFA if they are serious about forging the CSL into a major league.
Henan in poor form but have the ability to ruin Greentown’s final ‘home’ game in Jinhua
Henan Jianye are the third and final visitors of Greentown’s exile to Jinhua. Despite the G20 summit still remaining the best part of a month away, consecutive away fixtures and an international break means that Greentown’s next home game against Shanghai International Port Group on September 18th, will see the side return to Huanglong.
Henan, like Guoan before them, represent a bit of a bogey side for Greentown who haven’t secured victory over the Zhengzhou outfit since 2012. Despite recent history, Henan come into this game in poor form, with only one win in their previous five league fixtures, including a humbling home defeat to Chongqing Lifan and most recently, a home defeat to runaway leaders Evergrande.
While Henan certainly pose a threat in this unpredictable 2016 season, Greentown can and should be winning this one. Changchun’s victory over Chongqing in round 20 has once again cut the gap at the bottom meaning Hangzhou go into yet another crunch game. Buoyed by the Jinhua crowd witnessing the last of their three, CSL games, Sammir to score in a 2-0 Greentown win will add some breathing room between themselves and the drop ahead of two tough away fixtures against Guangzhou Evergrande and Liaoning Whowin in which points will be hard to come by.