First, it's important to reiterate an important point: this was not Guangzhou Evergrande, the seven times consecutive winners of the Chinese Super League and two-time winners of the Asian Champions League, This was their smaller and significantly less successful city rival Guangzhou R&F. That doesn't mean they don't have resources at their disposal which would put them well outside our reach, but you know, the opponent is not as prestigious as some people may have inadvertently thought they may have been.
It also doesn't mean that this Guangzhou R&F don't have other things going for them.
This was also not the first time we've played Guangzhou R&F this pre-season; we played them last Saturday evening in a behind closed doors game, losing 4-1, with perhaps a mix of senior and youth players from our side, though I can't verify that.The R&F logo looks like something you'd see on a box of ciggies. https://t.co/d5OGA6AADI— Les Street (@official_lesdog) February 8, 2018
Guangzhou R&F have also been busy playing some other teams; before our last Saturday game, they played Oakleigh two days prior, and two days before yesterday's game they'd played Melbourne Heart, and on Sunday they play Dandenong Thunder. As you can see, it's a crowded schedule, and the squads Guangzhou R&F are likely to be using for each friendly are going to have a high degree of variability.⚽精彩回顾: 2月3日澳洲当地时间19:30，广州富力4比1击败南墨尔本，雷纳迪尼奥梅开二度，扎哈维任意球破门，本土新秀马俊亮建功🎉#GuangzhouRFFC #CSL #SouthMelbourneFC #Friendlymatch#Melbourne pic.twitter.com/316tkqEl1v— Guangzhou R&F FC (@GuangzhouRFFC) February 5, 2018
Someone noted of yesterday's game that our guests used a reserve squad for the first half, and a fuller strength side for the second. The reserves therefore would be made up of Chinese players, whose quality I can't gauge from the comfort of my home office, but. Unlike the A-League teams, Chinese sides seems to adhere to the AFC's 3+1 foreigner rule, but they're still fully professional whereas we're a glorified pub team, a gastro-pub team if you like.
For ourselves, it was a pretty full-strength squad, probably close to what you'd see for round one against Bulleen.
Martin (no first name provided) is a defender, probably a visa slot candidate, unsigned as yet as far as I'm aware. Not much evidence of youth team players there, for those who are going to ride that hobby-horse for superior and/or ulterior motives.Our XI to face @GuangzhouRFFC: Bray, Foschini, Konstantinidis, Martin, Norton, Millar, Jawadi, Epifano, Brennan, Minopoulos, Lujic. #SMFC pic.twitter.com/6tvuYkjc4t— South Melbourne FC (@smfc) February 8, 2018
We were 2-0 (Lujic, Konstantinidis) up at the break, and added a third (Brennan) in the second half. From what I can gather from the piecemeal information floating around, we looked good going forward, very exciting, and lousy going back the other way. Those hoping for clues in that description to something of how a Sasa Kolman team might play should perhaps temper their excitement just a bit; even under the late Chris Taylor era during this pre-season, the team looked OK going forward and less than adequate defensively. Nevertheless, one can't be disappointed with the performance, only cautious as to what actual worth can be extracted from it. Some people are born optimists, while others are hoping for some evidence that we are going to be shit-hot after the turmoil of the past couple of weeks.
Of course what's a pre-season friendly win of indiscernible worth without South fans, their current politically adjacent affiliates, and aspiring doyens of the local soccer press going off half-cocked just because they can?
Sometimes South fans are like a bloke who has caught a glimpse of side-boob, getting excited beyond all measure of reasonableness to the point where he's started planning the wedding. In our case, when we see something approximating hope, we rush out to vote for every online poll no matter how meaningless it isThis why the future of @smfc is secure & important - from lakeside to the world in this changing football environment pic.twitter.com/wXJQm8Ajet— Martin Foley (@MartinFoleyMP) February 8, 2018
and end up making ourselves feel like dirt when nothing comes of it. There was a solid contingent of Chinese supporters in attendance, many more than South fans. I don't know who they were, how they got there, and whether they'll be back. OK, I don't think they'll be back, but I suppose for those South fans who were there it was nice to see a decent crowd for whatever it was that was happening last night..@smfc leading @GuangzhouRFFC 2-0, a team that beat @MelbourneCity 4-1. Should they be one of the expansion A-League sides?. #ALeague #SMFC— AUFC™ (@ALeagueAUFC) February 8, 2018
There was also this
which I assume lead to the halftime melee that some reported, which saw the ejection of Lujic and Epifano, as well two players from the opposition. Sounds like it was am eventful night all round.Epa jumping into a tackle with studs up in a friendly. Classic. #straya— Ante Jukić (@a_jukic) February 8, 2018
And he's gone
Truth be told, I never saw much in his pre-season form (when I was paying attention) to get excited about. Others were far more critical of his skill level. I'll say this: judging from his highlights package, he looks like a classic out-and-out striker, and during pre-season we seemed to be trying to play him a lot on the wing, hoping as we've done since he left us to find the next Jaime Reed. It didn't work out, Smith would've taken up a visa spot we're apparently keen on using on a defender, these things happen. If that's the worst thing that happens during this off-season, we're doing OK.
In a similar vein, forward Amir Osmancevic, who had been trialling with us (and who did look impressive at times), has ended up at Pascoe Vale. Likewise, Kaine Sheppard has ended up at Avondale, or so people say. Oh, and Iqi Jawadi's back.