Former Shanghai SIPG striker Daniel McBreen returns to the Middle Kingdom as assistant coach of Guam, who take on China in 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification in Guangzhou this Thursday night. We caught up with him ahead of the big game.
Where has your career taken you since leaving Shanghai SIPG?
I played for Hong Kong club South China for the remainder of the 2014–15 Hong Kong Premier League and then retired. I've been coaching with the Newcastle Jets Academy for the last four years, and have just taken over the youth team head coach role.
How did the Guam job come about?
My good friend and former North Queensland Fury teammate Karl Dodd was appointed head coach of Guam and asked if I was interested in assisting. I thought it was a fantastic opportunity, and have been with the Matao for over a year now.
How do you rate your chances against China?
It will always be tough when you compare what both nations have at their disposal, both financially and populationwise, but we are looking to play a brand of football that enables us to beat teams who most believe we shouldn’t. It’s a process that is ongoing, but we believe our performances are showing that the team is moving in the right direction and there is constant improvement.
You played alongside a few of the current China players – who are their danger men?
Of course, Wu Lei is a danger, always has been, which is the reason he is playing in Europe. He became the first Chinese player to score in the Europa League last week too (watch that goal right here), which is nice because he is a lovely guy. That said, I hope he doesn’t score against us! Yan Junling is also an excellent goalkeeper, learning his trade under Ian Walker.
What do you think about China’s new policy of naturalizing players?
All nations do it. China has a number of excellent foreigners playing in their country, so if the player and nation are happy with it, why not?
What are your memories of the Guangzhou fans and playing at Tianhe Stadium?
I played against Guangzhou in the AFC Champions League for Central Coast Mariners and was in the crowd suspended for Shanghai. The fans were fantastic on both occasions.
What did you think about Shanghai SIPG winning the Chinese Super League?
Fantastic. Shanghai is definitely red! I always keep an eye on the league and how SIPG is doing.
And finally, when we interviewed you back in 2014 you were not a huge fan of living on Chongming Island. Do you miss it now?
No. I do miss Shanghai and the people I met, but Chongming Island isn’t high on my ‘to return to’ list!
Guam take on China at Guangzhou's Tianhe Stadium on Thursday, October 10 at 8pm.