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Zhang Yuning ready to power Beijing FC's AFC Champions League challenge

Beijing: Injury ruled Zhang Yuning out of Beijing FC’s opening win over Chiangrai United in the 2020 AFC Champions League earlier this year, but the China PR international is now firing on all cylinders and is hoping to steer his side into the knockout rounds of the continental club championship.

The 23-year-old missed the win over the Thai League 1 champions after breaking a bone in his foot during the group phase of the AFC U23 Championship in January and, although side-lined for several months, Zhang believes he has returned stronger than before.

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“After the injury, I took a total of three months to make a full recovery and come back to the pitch,” the forward told

“After another one-month run-in period, I finally was able to play a game with the team. During the recovery period, I did a lot of preparation on my physical reserves. After the usual daily training, I would also have some extra training to prepare for the game.”

The additional work done during his recovery from injury paid off on the field as Zhang’s performance level improved throughout the just-concluded Chinese Super League campaign.

He scored six times in 18 games in the domestic competition as Beijing claimed third place in the standings to qualify once again for the AFC Champions League, with five of those goals coming in a 10-game run late in the season.

Now he is setting his sights on finally scoring in the AFC Champions League, something he has yet to do since joining Beijing at the start of last season.

“My good performances in the Chinese Super League games should give me some benefit in the AFC Champions League,” he said. “I’m eager to score in the AFC Champions League and I’m still looking to do that.

“At present, my physical condition and stamina are at a good level, so I hope I can score goals this year.”

Group E - MD2: Chiangrai United 0-1 Beijing FC

Zhang missed Beijing’s opening win of the campaign – which came courtesy of a Wang Ziming goal – but, as the club from China’s capital attempt to make their mark on this year’s competition, the former ADO Den Haag man is in no doubt over the importance of that victory.

“We lost the first game in the group stage last year, and that was also unlucky for us because we failed to qualify,” he says of a 3-1 reversal at the hands of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the 2019 campaign.

“So the first win in Thailand this year was very important, it will give us more confidence and lay a solid foundation so we can achieve our goal of going through to the knockout rounds.”

As a result, Beijing go into their first game in Doha against FC Seoul on November 21 with three points already under their belt, with Bruno Genesio’s side also due to face Melbourne Victory in Group E.

“The AFC Champions League games are very different to the Chinese Super League games,” said Zhang. “We have to fully prepare for the difficulties. We’ll do our best in every game and respect every opponent.

“We have strong confidence that we will go to the knockout rounds. I believe we are the best team in the group. The first goal for us is to qualify. After that, I hope we could make a new breakthrough this year and win more and more games.”

Photos: AFP

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