Changchun Yatai have officially won China League One Group C with one match still left to play in the first group stage of the 2020 season.
The northeastern club, one of the favourites to push for promotion to the Chinese Super League at the start of the season, secured the top spot in the first round of matches after a convincing 3-1 victory over Kunshan FC.
Kunshan were within touching distance of Changchun entering the match and were 1-0 up after just six minutes. Had the result remained as such until the end, it would have required the final match of the round to determine who officially progressed and which position either team would finish.
Now, however, Changchun Yatai’s position atop of Group C is unchallenged, with Kunshan now five points back in second place and no other team in the group capable of reaching Changchun’s 20-point mark.
Tan Long has been the main man to help guide Changchun in the early stages of the season, with the 2019 China League One MVP scoring his ninth goal in as many matches against Kunshan, with Brazilian duo Lucas Souza and Serginho also getting in on the action.
Now that Changchun have progressed into the promotion group, they will face off against Chengdu Better City and Meizhou Hakka, who won their own groups respectively, while waiting to see which other teams will join them in the hunt from promotion and the title.
Changchun Yatai boss Chen Yang, who took over from Samvel Babayan earlier this week, will feel confident about his side’s chances in the final round, with his team scoring the most goals in the second tier as well as conceding the fewest out of the teams already qualified.
An added bonus to the team securing their position in the next stage, is their inclusion into the second round of the 2020 Chinese FA Cup. The first round of the tournament has already taken place, with half of Chinese Super League clubs already eliminated due to the new, reduced format.
The top eight teams in China League One will enter the draw for the second round alongside the eight remaining teams for the top tier, giving them a chance of progressing further than in an ordinary season.
While a cup run would be positive for Changchun Yatai, who have always seemed to neglect the competition, this year’s push for promotion is arguably their most important ever.
Keeping their top players, especially the likes of Tan Long, will largely depend of the team’s ability to return to the top tier – so the sole focus of their energies should be on securing the title and getting back to the stage that they truly deserve to be at.