SportsTalk December 18: In an interview with “Oriental Sports Daily”, Qingdao West Coast goalkeeper Chen Zhao talked about his feelings about reaching the top spot and introduced the relevant situation within the team.
A season is over and the team has completed the task of surpassing the Premier League. How does it feel?
Chen Zhao: One year goes by too fast. In the past few years, we have been playing in a conference system. , this year the league has restored the home and away system, and I feel that every day is very fulfilling, the interval between games is very short, and a season passes quickly. Although time flies by very quickly, when I think back now, there are still many bits and pieces that come to mind, which I remember deeply. In the winter training at the beginning of the year, our goals were not very clear and we were not very confident. However, as the game progressed, our self-confidence began to improve and our mentality began to slowly improve.
The goal set by the club at the beginning of the 2023 season is (Chinese League One) to “keep nine and fight for six”. However, the team has achieved the goal of surpassing the competition. Is the goal of achieving the goal of surpassing the team accomplished the set task or is it an unexpected surprise?
Chen Zhao: To be honest, the slogan shouted by the club at the beginning of the season was “Guarantee nine and fight for six”. But the goal set for us is to surpass. But rushing to the Super League is not just about shouting slogans, it requires a lot of effort, so it will definitely be a surprise for us to complete the task of rushing to the Super League. For us, in addition to surprise, we also felt relieved. This season, I have been competing with myself, and after completing the task, I felt very relaxed.
Why do you feel relieved? Why are you competing with yourself?
Chen Zhao: In the Chinese Super LeagueI once left my presence on the stage, but for various reasons, I was unable to stay later. I secretly set a goal for myself, that is, I must come back and stand on the stage of the Chinese Super League again. The best way to prove myself is to show my best side and do every detail well, so that I can Return to the highest platform and show yourself on this stage.
What do you think are the reasons for the team’s success in reaching the Super League?
Chen Zhao: The team’s success in reaching the Super League is definitely inseparable from the support of the boss. This is indispensable. , our investor Xu always really loves football, and he will watch every game at the scene, whether it is away or at home. In addition, the club is very united, everyone has the same goal, and no one makes a mess. In fact, our team has many good players. To achieve good results, we need not only good luck, but also the hard power of the team. Of course, more importantly, our team has a better atmosphere. The boss never owes wages, and wages and bonuses are paid on time. Only by adding up these details can we become a strong team and achieve the goal of surpassing the league. All of them are indispensable.
This season, you are the team’s main goalkeeper. What games are still fresh in your memory?
Chen Zhao: It must have been my mistake this season. At that time, I really wanted to dig a hole in the ground. The away game against Heilongjiang Bingcheng was not easy to play. We didn’t score a goal until the second half. At that time, I felt so happy. This game was going to be won again. It was stable. Maybe this pride affected me. One of my mistakes caused the team to lose the ball and was equalized. If the team cannot surpass the league because of these 2 points, what should I do? But as a goalkeeper, I should adjust quickly. If I keep holding back, I feel that I will make more mistakes on the field. I have to put my best foot forward when I play, try to avoid getting emotional, and I can’t live up to the coach’s trust in me.
This season you also suffered the dismissal of your head coach and a drop in rankings. How did you get out of the slump after Jankovic took over?
Chen Zhao: Our team’s goal of surpassing the league has never changed or wavered. What Jankovic brought us was a tactical change. Our previous tactics were relatively conservative and focused on defensive counterattacks. After Jankovic came, our tactics became more open and we started to play offensive football on the field. In the second half of the league, I felt that we were becoming a strong team. As the game progressed, our results gradually improved and our self-confidence was restored.
Your team is a model of grassroots football in China. A community football team, after several years of baptism, it has won four championships in four years. After a huge jump, you will become a Chinese Super League team next season. What do you think of this phenomenon?
Chen Zhao: In fact, this phenomenon is not only limited to our west coast of Qingdao, but also to the three towns of Wuhan and Chengdu Chengdu. There is this phenomenon in Chinese football. I think many people’s comments are mixed, but as one of them and a person who has experienced it, I feel very proud. Everyone knows our team well. We started playing amateur football in Qingdao, and then we struggled all the way. We slowly came up and began to have our own foundation. I think big Chinese Super League clubs like Guoan and Shenhua have their own heritage, and clubs like ours also have their own heritage. We are a more down-to-earth team. Our Tian Yongtian is 36 years old. After the team reached the Super League, he said: “From the Qingdao City League to the Chinese Super League, this football path has been worth it in my life.” Think about it, he went from amateur football to the Chinese Super League. Championship, Chinese Second Division and then Chinese First Division, next season, he will play in the Chinese Super League. He has been with the club until now. He is a flag of the club. I think it is quite different to have such an experience. It is not just for any team. Comparable.