A little over a month ago, GUIZHOU HENFENG ZHICHENG FOOTBALL CLUB contacted us to offer us a new project: coaching the team until the end of the season with the goal of avoiding relegation and remaining in the Chinese Super League.
After accepting this new challenge, we moved to Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province, in Southwest China. Thus began a new adventure in the heart of the Asian giant, after having coached in Beijing and Shanghai. This was to be my third experience in Chinese football, although this time there was a notable difference, as we started the challenge with the League already well under way.
Our debut was on matchday 8, at home against Tianjin Quanjian, coached by former Italy captain, Fabio Cannavaro. Before the match, the team was sitting in the relegation zone, with just 6 points out of 24. The road ahead was not going to be an easy one, especially considering that the club had just gained promotion the previous season and for many players this was their first experience in the Chinese Super League.
My initial task was to get to know the players as soon as possible, so I could choose the team that best suited the system we would apply. It was also very important to work on their mentalities and self-confidence, so they would not consider themselves inferior to any rival. Throughout the first month, we introduced physical, technical and tactical variables, particularly psychological work to have the team focus on our final objective. Since then, we have played four matches with a positive balance of 2 victories and 2 draws, adding a total of 8 points. This has left us in the eighth place, out of the relegation zone, on matchday 12.
The truth is that the players’ reaction to everything we have asked has been a positive surprise. The entire coaching staff is extremely satisfied with the treatment we have received from the club, the city and the squad.
There are three more games left in this first leg of the tournament and our next match will be at home against the all-powerful champion of Chinese football for the past six seasons, Guangzhou Evergrande. This will be an extremely difficult match, but we will try our very best to achieve a good result despite the enormous differences in budget and players. Nothing is impossible in football. Sometimes, the difference between winning and losing lies in believing that it is possible and having full faith in achieving one’s goals. And we have plenty of both.
All the best,
Gregorio Manzano Ballesteros
Head coach of Guizhou Henfeng Zhicheng, F.C.
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