Chinese Super League week one: Five things we learned
Assani Lukimya-Mulongoti (front) of Liaoning in action during the CSL season opener between Guizhou Zhicheng and Liaoning FC in Guiyang, Guaizhou province, on March 3, 2017. [Photo/VCG]
Perhaps under-23 ruling lacks teeth
As season openers go, Guizhou Zhicheng vs. Liaoning FC was never going to be a star-studded blockbuster. But the game, which finished 1-1, offered a profound moment of note when Ma Lin, Liaoning’s manager, substituted his side’s U-23 starter, Wang Qiao, after a paltry 16 minutes of play. He cited tactical reasons.
Andre Villas-Boas replicated the tactics after 30 minutes with Shanghai SIPG a goal down against Changchun Yantai. Although neither Ma nor Villas-Boas are in breach of the Chinese Super League (CSL) rulebook per se, sides need only field one Chinese U-23 player in the starting eleven, it clearly runs contrary to both the spirit and intention of CFA’s mid-January declaration. It remains to be seen whether or not this tactic will become recurrent, but if it does the league’s authorities will undoubtedly need give the rule greater clarity and heft.