Title decider has fans on edge of their seats

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2007, 12:00am

Fans in Beijing will be on tenterhooks when the capital's top side bid to win their first Chinese Super League title tonight.

But Beijing Guo'an's fate is not in their hands as hundreds of kilomteres away in Shenzhen, a win will guarantee Changchun the prize.

Guo'an go into their final-round match against Shandong Luneng trailing leaders Chanchung Yatai by one point. And no matter how much the sell-out crowd at Fengtai Stadium will their heroes on, a victory won't be enough, because Guo'an will also need Chanchun to slip up against minnows Shenzhen Shangqingyin.

A draw would open the door for Guo'an to grab the title, provided they beat Shandong.

Despite the odds, tickets for the Fengtai game have already sold out, after fans reportedly queued at the box office 12 hours before the sales opened on Sunday.

Beijing have lost use of their long-time home, the Workers Stadium, to an overhaul intended to lift the venue to Olympic standard.

Despite being relocated, Guo'an - under South Korean manager Lee Jang-soo - have come closer to winning the domestic title than any team from the capital since the mainland's game turned pro in 1994.

The government, however, is trying to downplay the significance of the match, fearful of an eruption of discontent if the team falter.

'Whatever result the match yields, fans should exercise restraint,' said Wang Wen, an official of the Beijing Football Association, according to the Beijing-based Mirror newspaper.

That remark reflects worries about a re-run of the chaos after the 2004 Asian Cup final in which China crashed at the hands of arch-rivals Japan. Thousands of fans mobbed the Workers' Stadium after a humiliating 3-1 loss, hurling insults as well as missiles at Japanese supporters and players.