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Chinese Super League 2017

Andre Villas-Boas again hits out at Chinese Super League foreign player rules despite Shanghai SIPG win

Big-spending side begin new season with 5-1 home win over Changchun Yatai on Saturday thanks to a hat-trick from Brazilian striker Elkeson

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 March, 2017, 1:34pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 March, 2017, 11:02pm

Shanghai SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas took another swipe at the Chinese Super League’s reduction in the number of foreign players allowed in a matchday squad even after seeing his side maintain their perfect start to the year on Saturday.

Brazilian Elkeson netted a hat-trick as Shanghai recorded a 5-1 comeback home win over Changchun Yatai in their domestic season opener, with compatriot Hulk also finding the net and £60 million (HK$572m) signing Oscar amongst the assists at Shanghai Stadium.

But Elkeson’s place in the starting line-up is believed to have been under threat with Villas-Boas only allowed to use three overseas player in his squad, and Uzbekistan midfielder Odil Ahmedov or veteran former Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho available to the Portuguese coach.

“Ahmedov is very excellent, but due to the new policy he couldn’t play this match,” said former Chelsea boss Villas-Boas, who is allowed up to five foreign players in his overall squad of 27 including one from another Asian nation.

“I was disappointed in this policy, but life goes on and we have to find the best way to deal with it.”

Last season, Super League (CSL) teams were able to field four overseas players per match including one Asian player, but now that restriction has been altered forcing teams to field one Chinese player aged under 23 instead.

Ahmedov, a €8m (HK$65m) signing from Russian side FC Krasnodar, joined SIPG prior to the new rules being announced, which initially removed the Asian player allowance before it was reinstated.

Watch: Shanghai SIPG 5 Changchun Yatai 1

Carvalho, 38, joined SIPG after the limits were placed on teams for the new season midway through the winter transfer window, with the start of the start of the campaign just weeks away.

“I feel sorry that the new policy came out a bit late, and that put a lot of pressure on the young players,” Villas-Boas said before Saturday’s win.

“Everything has its own time, if you just hasten it, it’s not going to help. We understand that the [Chinese Super League] want to help develop young talent, but under that kind of pressure, they might not be well prepared.”

SIPG had to come from behind to beat Changchun, but after cancelling out Fan Xiaodong’s spectacular strike midway through the first half with Hulk’s penalty, Elkson netted his treble in less than 20 minutes either side of half-time as Villas-Boas’ side recorded a fourth straight win at the start of the year having posted three victories in the AFC Champions League (ACL).

Watch: Shandong Luneng 2 Tianjin Teda highlights

“This is my first match in the CSL, it’s a good experience,” added Villas-Boas. “We’ve had a long preseason in the winter and the foreigners started in January.

“Our foreign players are not only individually good, they are also willing to fit in the team and help teammates attack and defend. I hope that we can achieve our goals in the ACL and CSL.”

Injury permitting, Ahmedov and Carvalho might have to be patient in their search for first team football, with Brazilian trio Elkeson, Oscar and Hulk having already established a good understanding.

SIPG are allowed to play four foreigners, including the one Asian player, in the AFC Champions League with Ahmedov starting both games against South Korea’s FC Seoul and Australia’s Western Sydney Wanderers alongside the South American trio.

Watch: Guangzhou R&F 2 Tianjin Quanjin 0 highlights