After the Superleague’s two-week break due to international qualification matches for the 2018 World Cup to be held in Russia, we returned to action hosting an uncomfortable rival who had a great season last year, Shijiazhuang Ever Bright.
The previous game, when we visited SIGP, left us a bittersweet taste, because of the way the match developed. The draw did not reflect how well we played and, even knowing that it was a good result, we kept remembering the penalty missed by Demba Ba. Had we scored that shot we would have had a two-goal advantage after just 15 minutes of play. But we have to focus on the positive points from that match; the team kept its personality and character on the field and showed a great desire to win. We also played well as a unit and the tactical concepts keep improving every week.
All the players are working exceptionally hard during training sessions. They try their best to assimilate our idea of pressing high, so that we can regain possession near to the rival’s area, with our strikers in the ideal position to have the best chances to score. This was actually seen several times last Sunday against Shijiazhuang. The team had a great first half and went into the dressing room with a two-goal advantage, which could have been three if the opposing goalkeeper hadn’t managed to stop Demba Ba’s penalty shot. This is the second consecutive penalty he doesn’t score; if he had managed to put them both away he would now be the top scorer in the Superleague by far. Nevertheless, he did manage a hat-trick, and this clearly demonstrates that he is one of the best strikers in the tournament.
The team continues to progress, and we are currently in fifth position. This coming Sunday we will face a strong and difficult rival at home, Shandong. We will prepare this match thoroughly, aiming to win the three points and continue to climb towards the top of the league table. As always, we expect to have our loyal fans supporting us.
P.S. I wish to congratulate the Chinese national team for advancing on to the next and last qualification group phase of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
All the best,
Gregorio Manzano Ballesteros
Head Coach of Shanghai Greenland Shenhua F.C.