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Beijing Guoan’s Nico Yennaris is among the naturalised players who will have to wait to make their debut in the CSL. Photo: Twitter

Chinese Super League: CFA rules naturalised players can’t represent new teams on the eve of new season start

  • Beijing Guoan have signed two naturalised players but they could be ineligible to play against Wuhan in their CSL opener
  • It is hoped naturalised players can strengthen China national team

Naturalised players will be ineligible to start in the Chinese Super League when the season kicks off this weekend, according to reports in China on the eve of the start of the new campaign on Friday.

The Beijing Youth Daily and each quoted sources saying the Chinese Football Association (CFA) informed clubs on Thursday that naturalised players could not play for their new clubs at this stage – at least for the opening two rounds of the league season.

As a result, Beijing Sinobo Guoan, who had already arrived Wuhan with their two newly signed naturalised players, Nico Yennaris and John Hou Saeter, for their league opener against Zall when the announcement was made, will be seriously affected, as will Shanghai Greenland Shenhua, who secured Alexander N’Doumbou, a Gabon international who has a Chinese mother.
Guangzhou Evergrande’s Tyias Browning has already made his debut in China after his switch from Everton. Photo: Twitter

Yennaris, 25, was born in London to a Chinese mother and is a product of the Arsenal youth academy while Norwegian Saeter, who already made his Chinese debut with Guoan in the Super Cup last month, is rated one of the best young talents from his country. The 20-year-old midfielder, who played for Norwegian top division club Stabaek, also has a Chinese mother.

His mother always wanted her son to return to play football in the mainland and represent China at international level one day.

Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao signed Tyias Browning, who was born in Liverpool and has a Chinese grandfather. But the 24-year-old former Everton player has not registered as a naturalised player but as a foreign player.

Reports said the CFA has yet to finalise details on the rules surrounding naturalised players, which is why they have to put a brake on the matter.

After failing to the reach the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia last year, there have been strong advocates to strengthen the China national team through the use of naturalised players. Super League clubs therefore started scouting overseas players of Chinese descent.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: CSL teams told to hold off on naturalised players