Guangzhou Evergrande striker Elkeson (or Ai Kesen) made history in the Maldives on Tuesday night when he became the first player naturalised on residency to play for the Chinese men’s national football team. Towards the end of the game in Male, China’s new No 11 set another landmark by scoring his first goal for his new nation. Ten minutes after that penalty the 30-year-old scored again, a close range finish in stoppage time to make it a debut to remember. It was reported that the Chinese Super League’s top scorer’s parents were in the stadium to see his international debut. The Brazil-born striker’s goals made it 5-0 to China in their opening World Cup qualifier and put Marcello Lippi’s side top of the group on goal difference and in the driving seat on the road to Qatar 2022. ‘I am Chinese,’ says Brazilian Elkeson as newly naturalised striker appeals for fans’ support ahead of World Cup Qualifiers China’s other goals were scored by Jiangsu Suning’s Wu Xi, Espanyol’s Wu Lei and Tianjin Tianhai’s Yang Xu. Elkeson and fellow naturalised player Nico Yennaris, the London-born midfielder who is eligible to play for China because of ancestry on his mother’s side, thanked the away fans after the game. They then draped themselves in China flags handed to them by supporters. The striker famously carried the China flag when he won the AFC Champions League for the first time with Evergrande in 2013 just after moving to the CSL. Yennaris, who made his China debut in June, and Elkeson also became the first naturalised footballers to start a competitive game for China. Despite the policy of naturalisation proving a divisive topic among Chinese fans, the pair are expected to be followed by more newly eligible players. Elkeson’s teammate at Chinese Super League leaders, Ricardo Goulart, is expected to be naturalised during the current qualifying campaign, which runs until next June. The latest reports in Chinese media suggest that Jiangsu Suning’s Alex Teixiera, a Brazilian who moved to the CSL in 2016, is being considered for naturalisation once he reaches the five-year residency requirement in 2021. The forward, who has been linked with a move to English Premier League side Liverpool and Jiangsu Suning’s Italian sister club Inter Milan in the past, has never played for Brazil. China’s next game is at home against Guam on October 10 before they travel to the Philippines on October 15. They then meet Syria in Damascus in November in what should be a battle for top spot as they look to secure a second appearance at a World Cup finals.