Cosmin Olaroiu’s unbeaten start as Jiangsu Suning manager continued with Richmond Boakye snatching a point for the visitors five minutes from time to draw 1-1 with Tianjin Quanjin.
Quanjian’s higgledy-piggledy form is eerily reminiscent of Jiangsu’s travails in 2017, with the northern newbies flourishing in midweek Asian Champions League games only to flounder in the Chinese Super League.
Tianjin manager, Paolo Sousa, fielded the same side that eked out a win in Guizhou less than a week ago, and although the home side took the lead early on in spectacular fashion, given the porous nature of Sousa’s defence, a draw seemed the fair result.
When the sides last met in the waning weeks of the 2017 season, Jiangsu were locked in a relegation scrap and the encounter turned fiery with Wang Jin, the referee that afternoon, brandishing half a dozen yellow cards and a red. While little such bitterness lingered on in the imperiously-named Haihe Educational Football Stadium, it was the aggressive pressing employed by both teams that tended to produce the game’s best chances.
Jiangsu fell first. Zhou Yun’s blunderous clearance tempted Wang Yongpo into an audacious swerving volley, one in which he flaunted the form and elegance of an Olympic hurdler. As the one-time Chinese international wheeled away in celebration, one could not help but notice a cursive “B” tattooed on his neck; bad-boi? baba? b-rate? What significance does the letter “B” hold for the Qingdao native? The CFA is desperately curious to know.
If Zhou’s mistake was unfortunate, Gu Chao’s error at the half hour mark was carelessness personified. The goalkeeper sought to outwit the rapidly approaching press with a clever pass, instead, he found Sun Ke and were it not for the forward’s selfishness, Jiangsu would have found itself two goals down.
The Nanjingers, with one managerial change already this season and formations shifting with kaleidoscopic uncertainty, are in a state of flux. However, irrespective of 3-5-2, 5-3-2, or 4-4-2, currently Olaroiu’s favourite brew, the side remains potent on the counter-attack. If, as the footballing cliché goes, a pair of in-sync forwards are described as having telepathic understanding, Alex Teixeira and Boakye demonstrated a competent mastery of the fax machine; sure to give Tianjin a jolly run around but hardly espousing laser-like precision.
Tianjin’s man between the sticks had shown sharpness to twice keep out Boakye in the first half, but Zhang Lu seemed increasingly helpless as Jiangsu threatened after the interval. Kwon Kyung-Won’s air kick in midfield led to a breakneck Jiangsu attack with Zhang watching on as Teixeira curled a shot narrowly wide. Minutes later, Tianjin’s no.1 was rooted to the spot as Boakye powered over from close range.
An onslaught ensued and Nanjing’s resident Ghanaian was offered a final chance to atone for a cluster of missed opportunities. Tian Yinong stole the ball in midfield and set Boakye free in the penalty area, this time, the former Red Star Belgrade striker drove home low and hard.
Analysis is a futile game for Jiangsu onlookers in 2018, yet with young Huang Zichang continuing to impress and midfield maestro Ramires soon to return from injury, there are things to be thankful for in the run up to the grudge game against Shanghai Shenhua later in the month.