Jiangsu Sainty 0, Tianjin Taida 1

31 08 2009

OK, so now I’m a “veteran” of Chinese soccer, having attended my first match in the flesh. And I’ve decided that … well, it’s OK. Not great – probably not up to the standard of, say, the MLS, but maybe not so bad as people have made it out to be. The first game, which was between one of the two teams which play in Nanjing, Jiangsu Sainty, (Nanjing Yoyo, a second division team, is the other) and the team from Tianjin Taida, was played at the Olympic Stadium, a relatively long (probably about 20 minute) metro ride on the south side of town. By the looks of it, Chinese football still has a ways to go. We were told that we had to buy tickets at the ticket office, and that you couldn’t buy them in advance, but upon exiting the metro, we found out that you just buy tickets from random people selling them in the metro station and outside. And the tickets are super-cheap – like 15 RMB per person (about $2.25 U.S.). They also had quite a bit of merch on sale outside. Jerseys were about 60-80 RMB, depending on who you talked to, and you could probably get them cheaper. We ended up getting a couple scarves, both 30 RMB, which this other teacher named Zephyr who also went, and I wore. Missy didn’t wear one. But she had a fashionable scarf on already, so why pay the extra $4? After getting inside, it became pretty obvious that they didn’t use the complete Olympic Stadium facilities for the game, as most of the stands were closed, and they had some areas fenced off and guarded(?) by troops. Tickets also weren’t apparently labeled with any seat numbers, so we walked around until we found a good spot, in this case behind a group of “rowdies” (if you could call them that) who were banging on a drum and singing songs in a mixture of Chinese and broken English and Spanish. Seeing us cheering behind them, they were quick to take pictures of us and call us to join them in cheering the team on, which was a fun experience.
As for the match itself, it was … OK. Neither team got a
stranglehold on the match, and neither team seemed to have any exceptional players who stood out. Jiangsu (the name of the province we’re in, incidentally. It’s pronounced JANG-SOO) has a Chinese goalkeeper named Deng Xiaofei who has played for the national team, and a couple Brazilians. Unintentionally (though obviously they don’t look too Chinese) we adopted these players as our favorites, since they were clearly the best players on the team. The first half ended 0-0 as Sainty (the Sainty?) had a goal ruled out for offside and were clearly the better team, at least in my opinion. The second half was more of the same, but the 5,000-8,000 fans in attendance found their collective heart broken when Tianjin scored off a header. But just minutes before the match ended (there wasn’t actually a clock anywhere where we could see, by the way), Jiangsu got a penalty. Up stepped the Sainty midfielder whose name is … let me look … Lu Bofei, who promptly hammered the penalty off the post. The Tianjin players started celebrating, only to realize that the ref had ordered the spot-kick retaken, which we’ll assume was because a Tianjin player had encroached or something – there wasn’t any commentary from an announcer in the stadium or anything. So for some reason, the Jiangsu coach had another player, Brazilian Eleilson, who had looked a fairly capable defender, retake the penalty, and he promptly blasted it about 30 yards wide. Shortly thereafter, the ref blew the whistle, and that was the game. All the Chinese players came and bowed to fans, though Eleilson was conspicuously absent.
All in all, a fun, and cheap time. Up next, we’ll (we meaning Zephyr and I, since I doubt Missy has much interested in attending weekly subpar soccer matches) check out the other team – Nanjing Yoyo – and try and pick a favorite. Yoyo has an early edge, since their uniform is checkered blue and white. The next game is Wednesday, which I may or may not go to, since it’s impossible to find, say, ticket information anywhere. Wish me luck!
– Jeremiah

Photos:
1. Jeremiah befriends a young Jiangsu Sainty fan
2. Missy glares angrily after a poor call by the ref, while Zephyr cheers on the Fightin’ Blues

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One response

1 09 2009
gl

Jeremiah,

From Missy’s expression, I’d say you are very right about the coming attendance at soccer matches. As for drivers…some people never parallel park for that backing up thing!

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