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Jiangsu Suning's Choi Yong-soo: No power shift from South Korea to China

Jiangsu Suning coach Choi Yong-soo
Choi Yong-soo saw his side defeat Jeju United 1-0 on Wednesday.

Jiangsu Suning coach Choi Yong-soo stressed his side's 1-0 win over Jeju United and Shanghai SIPG's success over FC Seoul in this week's Asian Champions League matches did not signal a regional power shift to China from South Korea.

A late goal from former Chelsea midfielder Ramires sealed all three points for Choi's team a day after a solitary goal from Brazilian striker Hulk gave SIPG victory over 2013 finalists FC Seoul in the South Korean capital.

Korean clubs have a long track record of success against Chinese sides but, with the huge investment being pumped into the Chinese Super League luring higher quality foreign players to the league, Choi felt the improvements were already being seen.

But he did not believe it reflected a shift away from Korea's dominance at national team level.

"This is my first time coaching Suning in the Asian Champions League, and I was feeling a bit sensitive because I'm managing a non-Korean team in such a big competition," said former manager FC Seoul Choi. "I had to remind myself to keep calm. I am very happy that we had a good result in this first battle.

"I know both Shanghai SIPG and Jiangsu both won three points against Korean teams, but it doesn't necessarily mean that Chinese football is overwhelmingly better than Korean football. These two teams have core players who can decide a match and that is an outcome of the heavy investment in football and football culture.

"However, I don't think these results between clubs have much meaning in terms of national team football quality. I believe the interaction and competition between China, Japan and Korea can improve the overall football quality in East Asia."

Despite the win, Choi conceded his team needs to make further improvements as they build up to their meeting with Guangzhou Evergrande in the Chinese Super Cup this weekend after Jiangsu notched up their first win on the road in the continental club championship since 2013.

"As we expected before the game, our opponents had prepared well for the match and they showed their quality" said Choi. "However, in football sometimes the result matters more than the process.

"We still have lots of room to improve. We noticed Jeju's defence was a bit too deep, so we pushed Ramires further up to emphasise our attack. Today my team showed strong fighting spirit and I'm satisfied with that, I just hope we can have better and better results.

"If we keep winning like this we will get used to winning and it will become a habit."

Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch

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