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Chinese Super League

Guangzhou Evergrande’s Luiz Felipe Scolari slams Zheng Zhi ban claiming officials favour CSL rivals Shanghai SIPG

China national team skipper handed two-game Chinese Super League suspension after red card in last week’s win over Beijing Guoan

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 March, 2017, 3:02pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 March, 2017, 12:15am

Luiz Felipe Scolari slammed the decision to ban Zheng Zhi for an additional game after the Guangzhou Evergrande captain missed Friday’s 2-1 Chinese Super League defeat by Shandong Luneng, with the World Cup-winning coach seeming to claim officials are trying to scupper their title defence in favour of rivals Shanghai SIPG.

Former AFC Player of the Year Zheng was sent off in the closing stages last week as six-time defending champions Guangzhou opened the 2017 season with a 2-1 home win over Beijing Guoan.

Zheng was shown a seemingly legitimate second yellow card with nine minutes remaining at Tianhe Stadium for pulling back Turkish striker Burak Yilmaz, and after arguing with referee Hei Xiaohu on the pitch, did not immediately leave the touchline.

The ban meant Zheng missed Friday’s away defeat against Shandong, but now crucially the 36-year-old will now miss next Saturday’s showdown with SIPG, who beat Yanbian Funde on Friday to maintain a perfect start to the season.

Watch: Guangzhou Evergrande 2 Beijing Guoan 1 highlights

Zheng’s total suspension matches the one dished out to Beijing’s Zhao Hejing for a horrific lunge on Guangzhou’s Gao Lin in the second half last week.

“Our captain is also the captain of the national team and his absence will be a huge loss for every team, but we didn’t lose due to his absence,” said Scolari.

Andre Villas-Boas’ Shanghai SIPG continue perfect start to year with Chinese Super League win over Yanbian Funde

“I will add this, the result of his punishment came out today and he will be suspended for one more game. What I want to say is someone [Zhao] made a tackle which could have severely hurt a player [Gao] and he is suspended for two games, and another player [Zheng] only lingered for a while on the bench and he got the same punishment.

“Should we accept that decision? We all know why there is a verdict like that, but that is what we have to face. Zheng Zhi felt uncomfortable when he was off and he was having the ice compress on the bench and now he got the same punishment as someone who could have buried Gao Lin’s career.

Watch: Shandong Luneng 2 Guangzhou Evergrande 1 highlights

“Maybe we should think about who we will play next game and when you look at our opponent you will know why we got such a punishment.”

Guangzhou had opened the scoring at Jinan Olympic Sports Centre Stadium through a deflected free kick from China midfielder Huang Bowen after just six minutes.

Big words: World Cup winner Luiz Felipe Scolari hails Guangzhou Evergrande as ‘the best I’ve ever seen’

But after Brazilian defender Gil equalised with a header 10 minutes into the second half, compatriot Diego Tardelli struck the winner from close range with 14 minutes remaining following Graziano Pelle’s pull back as Shandong followed up last week’s 2-0 home win over Tianjin Teda.

“I had thought that the game would have turned out like this because their centre forward is very good at heading. We conceded two goals due to their high balls and we made mistakes when defending them,” added Scolari.

“Throughout the whole game they’ve been trying to create opportunities with high balls and we made two mistakes in the second half. In the future we need to adjust ourselves to the high balls, especially the set pieces.”

Both Guangzhou and SIPG are in AFC Champions League action next week as Scolari’s side entertain Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale, while Andre Villas-Boas’ Shanghai side also welcome J.League opposition in the shape of Urawa Red Diamonds.

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

On Friday against Yanbian, goals in either half from Wu Wenjun and Wu Lei secured SIPG their fifth consecutive win in all competitions this year, although Villas-Boas again opted to withdraw mandatory under 23 player Zhang Huachen after 17 minutes at Shanghai Stadium.

From this season Super League sides must have one Chinese player aged under 23 in their starting line up, and Villas-Boas also withdrew 18-year-old Zhang after 30 minutes of their 5-1 comeback win over Changchun Yatai last week, in what some have suggested is a way to get around the rule with the Portuguese coach openly critical of numerous changes to the rules regarding the make up of squads this season.

Watch: Shanghai SIPG 2 Yanbian Funde 0 highlights

“It was a hard game. Yanbian’s players made up their mind to defend from the start and it was hard for my players to find space at first. It wasn’t a very high quality game, but it’s always good to win three points,” said Villas-Boas.

“This is our decision [to substitute Zhang]. We didn’t pay attention to what our opponent does, we go our own way. As the experience accumulated, Zhang Huachen wasn’t as nervous as before. We brought on Cai Huikang for tactical reasons.”

Andre Villas-Boas promises Shanghai SIPG president return on investment this season

The rules also saw Villas-Boas rest Brazilian striker Elkeson despite his hat-trick against Changchun in favour of Uzbekistan midfielder Odil Akhmedov, with sides only allowed to feature three foreign players in each match this season.

“We have to make a choice since the new policy came out,” added Villas-Boas. “Akhmedov has been brilliant from day one and it wasn’t fair not giving him a chance to play in the Super League.

“Of course,it was also unfair to Elkeson and I hope he can get enough rest and keep better form.”

Also on Friday, 2016 runners-up Jiangsu Suning collected their first point of the season after sharing a goalless draw at home with Tianjin Teda.

Watch: Jiangsu Suning 0 Tianjin Teda 0 highlights