Football 12 months ago

McGowan relishing China stay

  • McGowan relishing China stay

    PERTH, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 29: Ryan McGowan of Australia controls the ball while working on a drill during an Australian Socceroos training session at nib Stadium on August 29, 2016 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

The Chinese Super League might have its fair share of knockers, but Socceroos defender Ryan McGowan isn't one of them.

The 27-year-old is enjoying a second stint in China with Henan Jianye, and rejects the idea it isn't good for a footballer's development.

It just depends where on the field you play.

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The Chinese Super League has become one of the richest in the world, with little-known clubs rivalling established European giants for star players.

Internationals Graziano Pelle of Italy, Colombian Jackson Martinez and Brazil's Hulk headline their sides.

That makes being a defender the best challenge a player could hope for.

"I was in Scotland before and I would never face the type of striker I now face," he said.

"(No one in the) A-League would face players of this calibre ... star-quality strikers who would walk into almost any team in the world.

"You get these one-v-one battles and big-pressure games, which is what you want to be involved in."

Coach Ange Postecoglou has spoken of the challenges of playing in China, suggesting a safer bet for a long-term career would be European football.

Veteran stiker Tim Cahill is the most famous Australian to have played there, with Shanghai Shenhua and Hangzhou Greentown.

The 36-year-old was an advocate for the league while in China, but after signing with A-League club Melbourne City in August, he said he could have "stayed in China and coasted through it".

For for McGowan - and fellow China-based Socceroo defenders Trent Sainsbury and Matthew Spiranovic - playing in the league is sensation.

"Papiss Cisse ... Gervinho, (Ezequiel) Lavezzi, Paulinho, (Alex) Teixeira ... they're all forward players," he said, listing international Chinese Super League strikers.

"When they come to town, the coach says, 'That's your job, Ryan. You're the foreign defender. You need to keep a clean sheet and look after these guys'.

"That forms its own pressures. If we lose 2-0 they don't tend to look at the Chinese players, it tends to be my fault, or Spiranovic's or Sainsbury's.

"But that's good."

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