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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 22 November, 2019

Jim McGuinness enjoying Beijing as club remain unbeaten since his arrival

The former Donegal coach is yet to taste a defeat since arriving in China.

BEIJING GUOAN WON’T win the Chinese Super League title this year but their recent good form has put them well in contention to qualify for next season’s Asian Champions League play-offs.

Ever since Roger Schmidt was appointed the team’s manager and brought Jim McGuinness with him as an assistant, the side has enjoyed a resurgence. From seven games under the coaching team, Beijing are still unbeaten.

From a possible 21 points available, they’ve taken 17 and ahead of a weekend clash with Hibei China Fortune, they’re just two points away from an AFC berth.

Including tomorrow’s fixture, Beijing have eight games left in the campaign. They certainly won’t catch Luiz Felipe Scolari’s reigning champions Guangzhou Evergrande, who are aiming for their seventh successive league triumph. Second-placed Shanghai SIPG seem a little out of reach too but reeling in Shandong Luneng seems very achievable.

Qualification to the Champions League would be a fine achievement considering they experienced a managerial change at a crucial juncture of the season. It would also be the club’s best finish since 2014, when they were runners-up.

(SP)CHINA-BEIJING-SOCCER-CSL-BEIJING GUOAN FC-NEW COACH-ROGER SCHMIDT Roger Schmidt observes a Beijing Guoan training session. Source: Tao Xiyi

With Schmidt and his staff on two-and-a-half-year contracts, short-term progress is a must. The former Bayer Leverkusen coach is the club’s sixth different manager in four years and the hierarchy won’t hesitate in pushing him aside if things aren’t going to plan.

Still, keeping up their good form until season’s end will ensure bigger and better things in 2018 for Beijing, Schmidt and McGuinness too.

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Eoin O'Callaghan

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