After a rest period of more than two weeks, the Chinese Super League returned yesterday as league leaders Guangzhou Evergrande edged past Yanbian in a dramatic 4-3 win. With the rest of this weekend’s CSL fixtures set to take place over the next couple of days, here’s your update of the latest developments in the Far East as we enter what looks set to be a fascinating season run-in.
AVB handed eight-match ban
The big news that emerged right at the beginning of the international break is that Shanghai SIPG manager Andre Villas-Boas has been handed an eight-game ban by the Chinese Football Association following a bribe gesture he made to an official during his side’s 1-0 win over Beijing Guoan back in September. The suspension means he will miss all of Shanghai SIPG’s remaining CSL games this season and the first four of next season’s campaign.
SIPG will be hoping they can continue to perform despite this news coming at such a crucial stage of the season. AVB’s team are the only team capable of denying Guangzhou Evergrande yet another CSL title but now lie seven points behind Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men following yesterday’s result. SIPG have a chance to cut that gap back to four points with a win against Liaoning Whowin this morning, but with only three games remaining after this match-week, this suspension could have made the uphill battle the Red Eagles are facing even steeper.
CFA look to foreign referees to raise standards
Despite handing AVB a lengthy ban, rather ironically it appears the Chinese Football Association agree with the former Chelsea and Tottenham manager that the refereeing in the CSL has been less than satisfactory. From this weekend onwards, foreign referees have been invited to officiate the most crucial CSL games following a statement by the CFA that has declared they are taking action to improve the accuracy of officiating:
“In order to ensure a smooth finish to the season, from Round 27 onwards the Chinese Football Association will invite referees from Europe and the Americas to officiate on crucial games”
Given that both sides involved in the Tianjin derby are currently under investigation for match-fixing, you can argue Villas-Boas really did have a case with his gesture. However, the CFA insist this decision has been made in order to try and continue the development of the CSL along with video assistant referee technology which will also be introduced in the near future and for the 2018 season.
Capello set to leave Suning?
Recent reports from Italy suggest Fabio Capello is eager to leave Jiangsu Suning once the CSL season closes next month. Capello was appointed as head-coach by Walter Sabatini, who is a technical advisor for Suning as well as Inter Milan due to both sides being owned by Suning Group, back in June and signed an 18-month contract.
However, the rumours in Italy are that Capello has now told Sabatini he wants to leave when the CSL comes to an end in four games time. The reports have led to inevitable links with the Italian national team managerial role due to the future of current head coach Giampiero Ventura supposedly uncertain. Suning are currently 13th in the CSL, seven points above Yanbian and the relegation zone.
Transfer rumours aplenty
Finally, as is always the case, there’s been no shortage of transfer rumours regarding the CSL and various top players in the past week. If correct, two ex-Chelsea men and leading CSL players may be set to leave China, as both Ramires and Oscar have been linked with European returns.
That handy dual ownership of Jiangsu Suning and Inter that Suning Group possess is again relevant here, as it is believed that Ramires may join Inter on loan from Suning in January due to the CSL season finishing in November. Meanwhile, a CSL farewell from Oscar is likely to be permanent if a move does indeed happen with the Brazilian star hinting that he would like a move back to the European game.
Despite Oscar claiming that he is currently content in Shanghai, he has told Copa 90 that he “can still return to Europe”. The £50 million deal SIPG agreed with Chelsea for Oscar was certainly a surprising one to many fans due to the 26-year-old’s quality and the fact that he is seemingly in his peak years.
A move back to Europe is of course more than possible as a result of these factors, though a return to Chelsea which Oscar claims would be his preference would perhaps be even more shocking than his original move to the Far East. The comments he has given PL Brazil suggest SIPG fans should enjoy Oscar while they can over the next season or two:
“Yes, I would go back! I’m still young, I’m 26. Who knows in two, three years to return to the Premier League… I would be very happy. And preferably for Chelsea, who opened the doors for me to return.”