Santalab on fire for Chengdu Blades
Brendon Santalab has made a dynamic start to his life in China. The former Sydney FC striker signed with Chinese Super League club Chengdu Blades in July and has enjoyed some irrepressible form in his short time there.
tribalfootball.com caught up with the 27-year old to find out just what is in the water in Chengdu.
How have you found the transition to the Chinese Super League?
"The transition from the A-League to the Chinese Super League has been an interesting one. It's obviously very hard to compare the A-League and CSL for various reasons but it's been a fairly easy transition for me in terms of the CSL not being as physical as the A-League."
Your form has been outstanding, scoring 6 times in 9 matches, what do you put it down to?
"What I put it down to is hard work and our style of play. We work great as a unit and win the ball back very quickly when we don't have it. My role allows me to attack more than at previous clubs which has given me more opportunities to score."
Can you see yourself remaining in China? Have you adapted to the lifestyle yet?
"Adapting to the lifestyle has been fairly easy. Football takes up so much time that there is only time to rest and look after yourself before the next training or game. China has a very different culture to everywhere else but it's all a great experience. I have a contract for next season with Chengdu Blades and we will see what happens after next season."
Chengdu are at the wrong end of the table now but are only six points off the top six. Do you have confidence in climbing the table before the season ends?
"Our form this second half of the season has been one of a top 4 side. It's unfortunate that we had such a slow start to the season otherwise we would be somewhere near the top. Our recent form indicates that we can finish a lot higher than we are at the moment and I have full confidence in the team. With 6 games to go and the competition as tight as it is, I feel as though we can challenge for a top 6 position."
How have Blades fans treated you so far? Are you becoming a crowd favourite?
"Our fans have been fantastic in supporting the team through tough times but in recent weeks we have given our fans something to smile about with some great football and good results. The fans have been great towards me which always gives a player confidence and as for being a crowd favourite, I'm not too sure as I don't understand what they are shouting at games (with a laugh) but they seem to be happy with me!
On a parting note, Santalab explained the position the club was in this season before he turned up with results indicating just how important he has been since his arrival.
"When I arrived at the club we were second last and had only 14 points in 15 games. We now have got 15 points in the last 9 games with 6 games to play and it's obvious that we can challenge the teams in the top 6."
Six goals in nine appearances in a foreign country is a terrific effort by the Wollongong-born striker and if he keeps his personal form at this level, then the Blades will be in good hands going forward.