Changchun Yatai striker Tan Long again represented his country at the 2019 China Cup, in what can only be seen as a surprising but pleasing move.
The call-up of Tan Long may have been viewed as a surprising one after Changchun suffered relegation to the second tier last year.
With clubs in China only allowed to utilise three foreign players at any time, the majority of players in the CSL hail from the mainland.
With Tan Long now plying his trade in China League One, it is surprising to see new manager Fabio Cannavaro opt to bring him in for the short tournament.
China lost both games in the tournament, against Thailand and Uzbekistan, by a 1-0 scoreline.
While a huge disappointment for the nation, the inclusion of Tan Long will be a point of pride for fans of Changchun Yatai, seeing this move as recognition of the team’s importance to Chinese football even after dropping down.
It is rare to see players given an opportunity in their national sides if they are not playing at a higher level of competition – although some smaller countries have little choice.
A country of China’s size, however, means that there are plenty of players playing in the Chinese Super League that could easily have been chosen above Tan Long.
Tan Long, who featured in the third-place game in last year’s iteration of the China Cup, started the 2019 China League One campaign in storming fashion – earning a hat trick in the opening day of the season.
Now that Tan has earned his second and third caps respectively, Changchun Yatai fans will no doubt hope he can build on his impressive start, helping to deliver the promotion-winning season the team so desperately needs.
With his international duties now behind him, Tan will now turn his attention to helping Changchun Yatai overcome the recently promoted Nantong Zhiyun when they visit the Changchun City Stadium this Saturday.