Elkeson's star shines bright
Updated: 2013-03-19 05:39
By Tang Zhe (China Daily)
Brazilian midfielder Elkeson has become the latest star in the Chinese Super League after a superb hat-trick on Saturday.
Elkeson's brilliant performance helped defending champion Guangzhou Evergrande beat 2012 league runner-up Jiangsu Sainty, 3-0, and earned him high praise from his coach and soccer commentators.
"Evergrande made a good deal in bringing in this player, though he is not as famous as Lucas Barrios and Dario Conca. His playing style is a good fit for the team," said former Chinese national striker Li Jinyu. "The goals he scored showed his all-roundedness, and the statistics reflect his value.
"Elkeson has made himself a part of the team in a fast manner, while Barrios is yet to show his true value," Li said.
Elkeson signed a four-year contract with Evergrande in December, with a transfer fee of 5.7 million euros ($7.3 million). With five goals in two games, the 23-year-old, who will not be in the team's lineup for its AFC Champions League group games, is expected to replace Barrios for the knockout stages if it reaches that far.
"Five goals in two games, how effective he is! Can I say he is the top No 9 in the Chinese league Barrios' position is under threat," said Chinese commentator Huang Jianxiang.
Evergrande's Italian coach, Marcello Lippi, refused to make comparisons between the imports, but praised Elkeson for his outgoing and easy character.
"He knew when he arrived that he would be unable to play the AFC Champions League (group matches), therefore he needed another field to prove himself and he has worked really hard in the league games," Lippi said after Saturday's game. "Each player is different, and I never compare players in my team.
"Elkeson is very young and has great potential. He gets along well with his teammates in training and always hangs out and eats with Chinese players. I know he really wants to stay and play here that is very important," said the coach.
Meanwhile, Elkeson is taking a pragmatic view of the Champions League.
"I will cheer for my teammates during the tournament and fulfill my own duties and responsibilities. It depends on the coach to decide the lineup," said Elkeson, who is expecting to take a shopping holiday with his family in Hong Kong in the coming free week. "Shopping is not only for women, but also important for men".
The Chinese national team will play Iraq in an Asian Cup qualifier at Changsha Helong Sports Center, Hunan province, on Friday. The Chinese Super League will rest for one week to make way for that game.
Guangzhou Evergrande has nine players in the national squad while Dalian Aerbin has five. Chinese midfielder Chen Zhizhao, who is playing for Brazilian club Corinthians, is expected to make his national debut.
China lost to Saudi Arabia 2-1 on the road in its first qualifying game in February.
(China Daily 03/19/2013 page24)