Changchun Yatai was crowned champion of the 2020 China League One season today, following a dominant 3-0 victory over Chengdu Better City.
The northeastern club entered the 2020 campaign as a frontrunner to earn promotion, even before the ongoing coronavirus pandemic forced Chinese football into significant changes and a much later start date than it did. habit.
The 2007 Chinese Super League champions advanced through the tournament’s initial group stage, finishing atop Group C with six wins, three draws and one loss.
Entering the promotion phase, one of the six competing teams looked like they could walk away with the top prize, with a special focus now on Meizhou Hakka, who was the only undefeated team left, and Chengdu Better City, who had the top prize. better. record of any team before this stage.
With Changchun Yatai also changing managers midway through the initial group stage, with Chen Yang replacing Samvel Babayan in a truly surprising turn of events, fans held their breath and hoped the team would come out positively.
They didn’t have to worry, however, as Changchun dominated the final leg of the season, winning four of their five matches, with a goalless draw against Zhejiang Greentown – who finished in second and will have to win. of the playoffs against the second lowest ranked CSL team to win promotion.
In those five matches, Changchun Yatai did something truly unexpected: winning five straight clean sheets en route to the league title, their first second tier championship since 2003.
The victory sees Changchun return to the Chinese Super League for the first time since 2018, when they suffered a shock relegation on the last day of the season – also missing immediate promotion in 2019 after a strong run in the middle of the season. .
Tan Long was the club’s main man again, finishing the season as the league’s top scorer with 11 goals in 15 appearances – seeing the China international return to a level he deserves to play at, possibly securing his future. with the club for the long haul.
The only downside to the club’s victory in the league in 2020 is that longtime captain Zhang Xiaofei, who retired after the 2019 season, was not involved and was unable to retire.
It would have been nice to see such a great club servant end his career with more silverware, but it just wasn’t.
The honor of wearing the captain’s armband and lifting the Ligue 1 trophy has passed to Sun Jie this season, and the great defender will undoubtedly play a key role for the team for many years to come.
An interesting future ahead
There will be a lot of questions surrounding the team’s progress, including whether or not Chen Yang has earned the right to lead the team at the highest level, after effectively continuing the excellent performances that Babayan and his team are building. have already shown.
The status of loan players, including Zhang Yu, will also be a focal point for fans as the club seek to strengthen themselves even further and ensure they do not endure another disappointing relegation, putting the club back in. a position he always seemed to deserve.
For now, however, Auto City fans will be celebrating with their bai jiu, chuan’er and friends as Changchun Yatai has added silverware to its trophy cabinet and will once again be a Super League club. in 2021.