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Chen Jingang’s job hanging by a thread despite late Changchun Yatai equaliser

Changchun Yatai

Changchun Yatai scored a 93rd-minute equaliser against Meizhou Hakka on Sunday, leaving coach Chen Jingang’s future hanging in the balance.

Changchun earned just their seventh point of the 2019 season after a 1-1 draw against Meizhou Hakka – who now sit above the North-Eastern club on goal difference with five games played.

Chen Jingang’s side should have put things to bed after Zhang Hongjiang saw red in the 73rd minute of the game – leaving Changchun with a man advantage for 17 minutes.

Despite the advantage, it was the home side that took the lead through John Mary with four minutes remaining in regulation.

Changchun were lucky to snatch a point three minutes into extra time through defender Yu Rui.

The draw sees the club sitting in tenth place in China League One, surprisingly just three points behind first placed Guangdong Southern Tigers.

Despite securing a point, the fact that Changchun Yatai are not sitting towards the top of the league will have fans calling for Chen Jingang’s resignation – with tensions already high.

After last week’s shock 2-0 loss to Nei Mongol, a large group of hardcore Changchun fans refused to leave the stadium for over an hour – calling for Chen Jingang to leave and demanding improvements from the side.

Long-time captain Zhang Xiaofei communicated with fans while the team remained on the pitch to apologise for the disappointing performance.

Chen himself could see the crowd during his post-match press conference and kept peering out at them throughout.

Sunday’s draw will not have done much to satisfy fans that Chen is the right man for the job – with the 61-year-old already having overseen the team’s relegation in 2018 and now finds the team struggling in the second tier.

Allowing a number of key players from the Chinese Super League squad has puzzled fans greatly, with long-time centre back Sun Jie’s move to Norway being one of particular confusion.

If results continue to be poor, Chen’s future with the club could be over far sooner than expected – leaving the club to find a new person to help guide them back into the top tier.

Chen will have an opportunity to impress when his Changchun Yatai side take on Nantong Zhiyun in the third round of the Chinese FA Cup on Tuesday.

A poor result there could see him removed from his current position before the damage gets too much, with a difficult league tie against Guangdong Southern Tigers next Saturday.

A win in the cup could do much to satisfy fans in the short-term, but long-term improvements are needed if Chen is to hold on to his job for much longer.

James Reeve is a British sports writer and the correspondent on Changchun Yatai for Wild East Football. James has followed the club since 2012, living in North-Eastern city between August 2013 and March 2018.

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