After 8 years, there are Chinese players standing on the "top of the world" Is this Tianjin veteran ready?
At the end of the year, the heat of Chinese football gradually cooled down, and it seems that in addition to the heavy topic of whether to enter or not, there are only various reliable and unreliable transfer rumors left. International football, by contrast, is getting hotter and hotter, with another high-profile event on the horizon in December: the Club World Cup, which represents the highest level of club life in the world. What is different from the past is that Tianjin fans in this year's Club World Cup obviously have more concerns - Zhou Tong will follow Auckland City to play in the Club World Cup, which is also the first time in 8 years that a Chinese player stands on the "top of the world" after Guangzhou Evergrande in 2015. Although the 33-year-old Zhou Tong chose to join Auckland City more out of personal life planning, it has to be said that joining Auckland City has opened up a new world for the veteran, not only realizing the dream of participating in the Club World Cup, but even the German turning price has also seen a rare "reverse growth".
Last night, Zhou Tong updated his social media and posted a photo of him preparing for the Club World Cup with the team in Dubai. He left Auckland with the team on Tuesday and arrived in the UAE after a 17-hour journey. For Auckland City, who finished their domestic competition early, although they are in the lowest bracket, they have plenty of time to prepare, where they can do a week or so of acclimatization and warm-up before moving on to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to prepare for the match against the host side Jeddah United. On 1 December, the team also played a warm-up match against local first-division side Abu Dhabi, where the two sides drew 1-1, and on 6 December, they will also play a warm-up match against another UAE team, United Sports.
The match between Auckland City and Jeddah United will be staged on the 12th
For Auckland City, it is unrealistic to repeat the third-place finish in 2014 in this Club World Cup, and it will be difficult to win even the opening round, which is more like a 'qualifier'. After all, Jeddah United, who have the advantage of being at home, have world-class stars such as Benzema, N'Golo Kante and Fabinho. Although at present, they are only fourth in the Saudi league, but the degree of involution in the Saudi league is high, just look at Cristiano Ronaldo, who is about to have two seasons without results. At Jeddah United, Benzema still maintains a very high scoring rate, scoring 13 goals in 20 appearances, and just as efficient as he is former Chinese Super League foreign player Hamed - also 13 goals in 20 games. As soon as the World Club Group situation was revealed, Zhou Tong was full of expectations for playing against Benzema, but in fact, the world superstar he is most likely to face is Kante, and how to break through Kante's defense will also become a big "problem" for Zhou Tong.
During training in Dubai, Zhou Tong signed the team flag
Although they once again won the Oceania Champions Cup, it has to be said that Auckland City's dominance in the domestic league has declined. Prior to their FIFA Club World Cup, they had just lost the trophy to Wellington Olympic 2-0 in the finals of the New Zealand Nations League. Not only that, but in the penultimate round of the previous regular season, they also lost to Wellington Olympic 1-3, followed by a 2-3 defeat to Christcech United in the final round, in other words, they went into the Club World Cup with three consecutive defeats. Such a state of affairs naturally makes people even more optimistic about their prospects of qualifying.
Of course, for Zhou Tong, being able to participate in the Club World Cup is already an experience that is difficult for other Chinese players to experience, in his words, "to experience this journey with your heart and learn to feel the top football". Judging from his status in Auckland City, there is a high probability that he will get the opportunity to play in the Club World Cup. Since joining the club, he has made 28 appearances in all competitions, contributing one goal and one assist. Although New Zealand has its own "U21 policy", which means that he can only come off the bench most of the time, in terms of the proportion of participation in various competitions, Zhou Tong has been given more opportunities for the theoretically most difficult Oceania Champions Cup - not only participated in two rounds of qualification-related play-offs, but also played in the final semi-finals and finals, in which he also participated in the final penalty shoot-out as a penalty taker.
From this point of view, in the face of the more powerful Jeddah United, the experienced Zhou Tong may get more opportunities to play. After all, for the club's general manager, Gordon Watson, signing Zhou Tong was like a "match made in heaven": "As an ambitious club, we like to compete and recruit competitive players, and everything we do is more like a natural pair. So, there is no such thing as a strategy or a 'grandiose' plan, and the signing of Zhoutong just happens. As with a lot of football, sometimes there is good chemistry and good things happen. It is worth mentioning that in the last season of the Jinmen Tigers, Zhou Tong's German transfer price has dropped to 75,000 euros, and after joining Auckland City, his value has risen to 150,000 euros, equaling his highest value when he joined Tianjin seven years ago.
In addition to experiencing the unique local football atmosphere, Zhou Tong's life in New Zealand is also interesting, and the football training camp he founded is gradually on the right track, and the several "open door disciples" recruited are also improving day by day. Of course, Zhou Tong, who is overseas, is also always paying attention to the Jinmen Tiger's every move, and his "figure" can always be seen in various developments about the Jinmen Tiger on social media, and he also maintains close interaction with his former teammates. In October, when Xie Weijun lamented on social media that he had finally realized his dream of being an international player, Zhou Tong left a message in time: "The next step is to work hard towards the main force, come on Xie Burou." ”
Writer/Producer: Uncle Zhengtai