I would like to start by adressing the fact that my latest post was about seven months ago, the reason for this is a half year spell on parental leave that left me with the same insight as so many people before me have had already, and so many will in the future will have. Namely, parental leave is a form of ”time off” that really doesn´t entail any free time. I hope this new year will allow me to be a lot more active here, although parenthood in combination with studies will certainly see periods where there just isn´t anough hours in the day to do everything. But, as the new season approaches, I´ve decided to make a new start as well and change the focus of my writing from Chinese to Thai football. I will still follow the CSL but will mostly be watching Chinese sides when playing in the ACL. There are several reasons behind this choice, the main one being the fact that being in Thailand and attending the game in person has created a strong connection to the League and, in the spirit of full disclosure, Port Football Club.
Another deciding factor has been that the CSL, despite claiming ambitions of international recognition, actually became harder to watch in 2018 than in 2017. Finding sources to watch the matches with even remotely acceptable reliability, whether in Sweden or Thailand, was simply too much of a hassle.
So, considering said post was in fact an interview with a player in the Thai League, one could say I´ve already made the transition. However, it was not the plan at the time so I really want to consider this the time for the shift. And what better time make it than on the day China will play Iran in the quarter final, after emphatically sending Thailand packing, in the Asian Cup?
For closure, I will review my predictions about the 2018 CSL season now that the results are in. I did hold Shanghai SIPG as my favourites to bring home the championship and end the Guangzhou Evergrande domination. This came to pass and my argument was Evergrande´s lack of a proper replacement for Paulinho and I must say I still consider this the biggest reason for their failure to retain the title. Once Paulinho returned from Barcelona, and yes Anderson Talisca did play a major role in this as well, Evergrande suddenly found their footing and made a serious push to overtake SIPG in the title-race. My prediction of Hebei being the third challenger turned out to be far off with them ending up in sixth place, 29 points behind SIPG. Also, I viewed Tianjin Quanjian as a ACL spot candidate without mentioning Shandong Luneng at all, which turned out to be completely wrong. I did, however, get Beijing Guoan and Jiangsu Suning challenging for continental competition qualification right.
So looking forward, the fixture list for the 2019 Thai League 1-season that starts next month is out and the work identifying possible away days is in full swing. Hopefully, there will be some groundhopping with accompanying reports to come. Watch this space!