by Henry Chen
“The schedule of the league is very tight”, Zhang Jike
The physically draining timetable of the Chinese Super League has been the main issue for Zhang Jike. He thinks he can’t reciprocate the support coming from the Shandong Luneng Team and therefore opted to miss this season’s matches.
“The club spends money on me to go there and win. If I can’t adhere with the competition the entire season of the league then I will just be an irresponsible player to the team”, Zhang Jike.
Eventually, Shandong Luneng participated in the 2016 Chinese Super League without their forerunner Zhang Jike. Fang Bo and the veterans Zhang Chao and Hao Shuai became the core line-up of the team this season.
Last Saturday 24th December, the preliminary stage had its last round and the verdict was unfavourable for Luneng. They finished this season with eleven wins and seven losses placing them in fifth place. Luneng failed to make it into the top four and therefore missed its chance for this season’s championship title run.
It is Shandong Luneng’s worst performance in the Super League in the last nine years. The other time that Luneng failed to make it into the top four was in 2007. Zhang Jike was only 19 years old at the time. However, starting in 2008, Zhang Jike has become a pivotal member of Shandong Luneng, battling for the team to enter into the Play-offs in every season.
Definitely, Zhang Jike’s absence made an impact on how Shandong Luneng performed in 2016. Without a super player like Zhang Jike, Luneng’s overall strength is incomplete.
Can Shandong Luneng expect Zhang Jike in the line-up next season? The young champion doesn’t have a direct answer to such question.
Zhang Jike stated in one of his recent interviews that there will be something to expect from him in 2017. He will make it a better year for him with more competitions. He also ensured that he will attend the 2017 Chinese National Games, the local version of the Olympic Games in China.
“I will recuperate during this period of time and will realise my plans for the future. I will definitely participate in the Chinese National Games next year”, Zhang Jike