Jets youth win has Chinese fans abuzz

Newcastle Jets defeated Shandong Luneng in a youth match on Friday night in the Hunter - a result that according to the Hyundai A-League club has received "huge" coverage in China.

It is less than a week since Chinese company the Ledman Group was announced as the new owner of Newcastle Jets. 

And through Chairman Martin Lee he has quickly set about trying to raise the profile of the club back in China. 

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Coincidentally, the Jets’ Youth team hosted Chinese outfit Shandong Luneng’s under-19’s in a friendly on Friday night and emerged convincing 5-0 winners.

Lee is not involved with Shandong and the friendly was arranged prior to Ledman Group’s takeover over the club but the result has caused a stir in the Middle Kingdom.

Speaking with the Newcastle Herald, incoming Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna says Lee was thrilled with the result and said the news has helped boost the club’s profile in China.

“He just messaged me. He says it was a great promotion for the Jets in China,” McKinna told the Herald.

“It’s got a huge amount of coverage over there. The newspapers, social media. It got widespread coverage on Friday night, and from Friday onwards they were sending stories and other stuff through.

“The Shandong academy, they’re full-time. That’s a full-time program. For the Jets boys to beat them, so easily as well, was very impressive. 

"The players’ ages across the board were very similar. I think it quietly surprised Martin, to be honest.”

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McKinna – who coached in China with Chengdu Blades and Chongqing Lifan – says the result could potentially help change Chinese perceptions of Australian footballers.

“I think it’s a great thing for Aussie players going to China, because the market’s changed a wee bit. Because a lot of money’s being spent, they’re all looking for ex-internationals. I think this result could open the door for your steady, run-of-the-mill A-League players,” McKinna said.

“Even though it’s just a result between an academy team and a youth team, it gives some credibility to the Australian game in China, because they look to Europe and South America for a lot of guidance, even though Australia are Asian champions.”

The Jets’ first team is set to travel to China in August for friendly matches while Lee also plans to launch a Chinese version of the club’s A-League website.