Shanghai showdown: Clash of the forward lines in store as Eriksson seeks early derby win over Manzano
Swede targets derby win to get his side’s start to the new season back on track against bitter rivals Shanghai Greenland Shenhua
Manager Sven-Goran Eriksson is targeting a derby win tonight to get his side’s faltering start to the new season back on track when the biggest game of the Chinese Super League campaign so far sees Shanghai SIPG face bitter rivals Shanghai Greenland Shenhua at Shanghai Stadium.
SIPG, who are strongly fancied to challenge defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande for the CSL title this season, got off to a shaky start last week when they were beaten 1-0 by Henan Jianye.
“We didn’t show our full ability against Henan,” said Eriksson, who is still waiting to see an impact from his expensively-assembled forward line which includes Dario Conca, Asamoah Gyan and €18.5 million (HK$160.4m) club-record signing Elkeson.
The Swede was coy when asked about the chances of new signing Asamoah Gyan making his first league appearance for the club tonight. “I could answer but I choose not to,” said the former England manager. “It’s a question I want (Shenhua manager Gregario) Manzano to think about.”
The game is shaping up to be a face-off between two of the league's most expensively assembled forward lines with Manzano’s Shenhua having outlaid in excess of €10 million on bringing in attacking players Obefami Martins and Freddy Guarin during the close season. But it was another pricey acquisition in Demba Ba who rescued a point for Shenhua last week when he levelled from the penalty spot during the closing stages of their curtain-raising 1-1 draw against newly promoted Yanbian Funde.
Tonight will be former Beijing Guoan manager Manzano’s first taste of the Shanghai rivalry, but he admitted having paid close attention to last season’s fiery encounter between the two, which saw three players sent off as SIPG prevailed 5-0. “I watched the match, and it was a strange game,” Manzano said.
“Before the first sending off Shenhua was in control.”
However, the 60-year-old Spaniard said the importance of the match to local fans was not lost on him. “Our opponents are strong. They lost their first league match, which would make them more eager for a victory. All derby matches have one thing in common – the passion that the fans bring.”
Elsewhere on Friday night, Jiangsu Suning play hosts to Yanbian Funde and Shandong Luneng entertain Liaoning Whowin. Defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande face Changchun Yatai tomorrow evening.