Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

China: Lippi takes over Ghangzhou Evergrande

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on May 17, 2012

Marcello LippiChinese club Ghangzhou Evergrande have made a statement of intent for the year ahead by appointing former FIFA World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi to take charge of the team.

Lippi takes over a club who are in fine health having won their maiden Chinese Super League last season and leading ten games into the current campaign with 22 out of 30 points (seven wins, one draw, two defeats), one more than nearest challengers Ghangzhou R&F. Evergrande are also in the Round of 16 in the AFC Champions League where they face off against FC Tokyo. For Lippi, and Evergrande owner Xu Jiayin, the aim is for the club to consistently compete at home and abroad with the intention of becoming a major force in Asian football.

Lippi has spoken of his intention “to bring the Italian football concepts to China” and he will have a difficult act to follow given that his predecessor, South Korean coach Lee Jang-Soo, was the man who brought the long-awaited title to Evergrande. However the club has decided that big moves need to be taken if they are to maintain their place at the top of Chinese football and stay one step ahead of Shanghai Shenhua who are also battling to become China’s first super club.

Marcello Lippi’s first match in charge comes this Sunday against bottom of the table Qingdao Jonoon and the pressure will be on the Italian to keep up the club’s early season momentum. However, having won all of the game’s biggest prizes at club and international level, expectation is something that the 64 year old should be able to cope with.

China: Promoted clubs experiencing contrasts in fate and form

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on August 17, 2011

Chinese Super League logoThe 2011 Chinese Super League has reached the two-thirds stage and the fate of this season’s newcomers Ghangzhou Evergrande and Chengdu Blades is one of stark contrast. The former, who won promotion last season as League One winners, are the team that currently leads the way in the Chinese Super League whilst the latter are, like most promoted sides, struggling at the bottom of the 16 team league.

The story involving these two clubs is one of many parallels for most of the last two years. These two clubs were forcibly demoted into Chinese League One (second tier) after the 2009 season due to their involvement in a match-fixing scandal. Chengdu had finished seventh in the 2009 Super League and Ghangzhou in ninth before the Chinese Football Association told them that they had to forfeit their spots in the top flight in the following season.

These teams comfortably came back up in 2010 with Ghangzhou and Chengdu finishing that year’s campaign on 57 and 56 points respectively with a margin of sixteen points separating the top two from third place Yanbian Baekdu Tigers. But this is where the two teams’ similarities in fate and fortune begin to end as the 2011 season has seen Ghangzhou wipe the floor of the opposition with Chengdu struggling at the foot of the table.

Ghangzhou Evergrande have never been Chinese champions before 2011 but look set to end their long wait for a league title this season. After twenty rounds of the thirty game season, Ghangzhou still remain unbeaten with a record of fourteen wins and six draws and enjoy a nine point advantage over nearest challengers Beijing Guoan. On the other side of the coin are the Chengdu Blades who acquired the latter half of their name after linking up in 2005 with English third-tier club Sheffield United whose nickname is The Blades. Sadly for Chengdu they are not quite as razor sharp as their nickname would have you believe. They currently prop up the rest of the table with just thirteen points along with Shenzhen Ruby with both teams five points adrift of safety.

Ghangzhou Evergrande

Ghangzhou look set to win the title

Ghangzhou have been helped by the goals of two Brazilian born players. Cléo, now a naturalized Serbian having played with distinction for Partizan Belgrade in the last two seasons, is the top scorer with ten goals in ten games so far. Complimenting him is Mariqui who signed from Atlético Mineiro in 2010 and has added another nine goals. Gao Lin, a Chinese striker and a prominent figure in the national team, also plies his trade with the club and has chipped in with five goals including four in Ghangzhou’s last four league games. This staple supply of goals has helped Ghangzhou maintain their first place position since they acquired it in Matchday 10 and they haven’t looked back since.

Chengdu, on the other hand, have chalked up just two wins all season (for the record they came against Tianjin Teda and Shannxi Chanba) and it is no surprise to learn that they have one of the weakest attacks in the league having scored just thirteen goals, a tally shared by Shenzhen Ruby and worsened by one goal by 14th place Nanchang Hengyuan who lie five points ahead of them in the table. Their defence is the weakest in the league having conceded 35 goals and their current run of form has brought in just four points in the last fourteen games. Relegation “on merit” certainly seems likely this time around but such is the lack of depth in League One that the club would probably come straight back up in 2013 in any case. But with ten games to go Chengdu are going to have to pull their socks up if they are to avoid the virtually inevitable.

Both of these clubs meet on the last day of the league season in November and it will be a big surprise if Ghangzhou are not lifting the league championship trophy in front of their jubilant supporters and Chengdu preparing for life in the second tier.

Asia: Three big leagues take a break for World Cup

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on May 29, 2010
Shimuzu S-Pulse

Shimuzu S-Pulse (in orange) currently lead the way in Japan's "J League"

With the FIFA World Cup only days away the three biggest leagues in Asian football are taking a break ahead of the big kick-off in South Africa on Friday, June 11th. Although China has failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup the Chinese Super League has taken a break until July 14th along with Japan’s J League whilst the South Korean K League returns three days later on July 17th. “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” reviews the latest developments and looks ahead to the next matchday in each country:

JAPAN (Shimuzu 12/25; Nagoya Grampus Eight 12/22; Kashima Antlers 11/21)

Shimuzu S-Pulse are making the early running in the Japanese championship after twelve rounds although defending champions Kashima Antlers are still hanging on having been involved in the AFC Champions League until their recent exit in that competition at the hands of Pohang Steelers. Shimuzu S-Pulse, the only club in the current top four who have a Japanese coach, enjoy a three point cushion at the break having only secured a 2-2 draw away at FC Tokyo on Matchday 12.

Kashima Antlers’ chances at the top have significantly increased after their recent 4-1 drubbing of second place Grampus Eight in Nagoya last time out. Takuya Nozawa, Shinko Koroki, Marquinhos and Masashi Motoyama were on target for the champions with the lone reply coming from Australian Joshua Kennedy whose strike in this game took him to the top of the J League’s goalscoring charts with eight goals. But Nagoya, currently coached by former Crvena Zvezda and Olympique de Marseille star Dragan Stojković, have performed well thus far and will hope to get back on track on Matchday 13 against lowly Omiya Ardija. Elsewhere Urawa Red Diamonds and Kawasaki Frontale, both tied on twenty points, lost the chance to put further pressure on the top three having lost points in their most recent matches, a 1-1 at Vegalta Sendai and a 3-1 defeat at Jubilo Iwata respectively.

NEXT FIXTURES (14/07/10)

Kashima Antlers v Shonan Bellmare

Kawasaki Frontale v Omiya Ardija

(17/07/10)

Omiya Ardija v Nagoya Grampus Eight

Shimiuzu S-Pulse v Jubilo Iwata

Kashima Antlers v Kawasaki Frontale

(18/07/10)

Gamba Osaka v Urawa Red Diamonds

Sanfreece Hiroshima v Yokohama Marinos

CHINA (Shanghai 10 games/20 points; Shandong 9/16; Liaoning 10/15)

Defending champions Beijing Guo’an have found it tough going so far in the current campaign, perhaps aided by their AFC Champions League exploits, and currently lie in mid-table eight points behind league leaders Shanghai Shenhua. Having lost their most recent game 2-0 to Hangzhou Lucheng perhaps Guo’an can step up their title challenge upon the resumption of the league, especially now that South Korean side Suwon Samsung Bluewings have knocked them out of the Asian Champions League at the Round of 16 stage.

Shanghai Shenhua have a four point lead going into the break after their narrow 1-0 home win against Shenzhen Ruby and have accumulated twenty points from the first ten games thanks mainly to the goals of the league’s top scorer, Colombian striker Duvier Riascos. Their nearest challengers at the moment are Shandong Luneng who, sadly for them, lost their most recent fixture 1-0 to Shannxi Chanba but they still have a game in hand on the leaders so can close the gap in their next outing against Qingdao Jondon. The big surprise so far is newly promoted Liaoning Hunyong who lie third after ten games following their recent 1-0 win against Chongqing Lifan but Henan Jianye hang on to their coat tails despite dropping two points at home to Qingdao Jondon on Matchday 10 of the league.

Next Fixtures (14/07/10)

Shannxi Chanba v Shanghai Shenhua

Beijing Guo’an v Chongqing Lifan

Henan Jianye v Changsha Ginde

Qingdao Jondon v Shandong Luneng

Nanchang Bayi v Liaoning Hunyong

Changchun Yatai v Hangzhou Lucheng

Waldemar Lemos

Waldemar Lemos has just recently been sacked by Pohang Steelers after a string of poor results

SOUTH KOREA (Ulsan Hyundai 12/24; Jeju United 12/22; Seongnam Ilhwa 12/21)

It’s been a strange season in South Korea up to now especially regarding the clubs involved in AFC Champions League (AFC CL) action this season. Pohang Steelers, the defending champions of Asian football’s elite competition, have just fired their Brazilian coach Waldemar Lemos after the Steelers’ form at domestic level was in total contrast with that at international level. In the K League Pohang have lost four out of their last five matches with their most recent defeat, 5-2 at home to Jeju United, being the final straw for the Steelers’ board. Pohang currently lie in twelfth place but this is still better than their fellow AFC CL participants Suwon Samsung Bluewings who are rooted to rock bottom of the K League table after eleven matches played and their most recent match saw them lose 2-0 at home to table toppers Ulsan Hyundai.

Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma are the best performing out of the AFC CL participants and currently lie in fourth place with a game in hand on Ulsan after easily overcoming Chunnam Dragons in their last outing by four goals to nil. Ulsan Hyundai finished fourth last season and will have ambitions to remain in this area especially as they find themselves top of the table going into the pre-World Cup break. Until recently FC Seoul led the way but a 1-0 reverse to sixth place Incheon United saw the capital side lose some valuable ground whilst fifth place Gyeongnam FC also lost their last league game by the same scoreline, their opponents being Busan I’Park.

NEXT FIXTURES (17/07/10)

FC Seoul v Chunnam Dragons

Ulsan Hyundai v Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma

Jeju United v Gangwon FC

Daegu FC v Suwon Smasung Bluewings

Busan I’Park v Pohang Steelers

Gyongnam FC v Gwangju Sangmu