hanghai’s first football derby of the season has added spice tonight thanks to the rip-roaring start to the season by the city’s second club, Shanghai Liancheng Zobon.
The team, called Shanghai Zobon last season before a merger, shocked everyone including themselves last Sunday when they whipped title favourites Shandong 5-1 at Yuanshen Stadium.
The Pudong outfit find themselves in the unlikely position of league leaders as they prepare for their clash against their more illustrious rivals Shanghai Shenhua, who have made a somewhat plodding start to their campaign, drawing two games at home to newly promoted Xiamen and Changchun.
But will Liancheng have any backing at tonight’s game at Hongkou Stadium? Shenhua’s established rivals for the past few seasons, Inter Shanghai, upped sticks and moved to Xian during the close season. Inter had a decent following of sorts, who now suddenly find themselves without a team to support.
Blue Devil Frank Ding said it was too soon to say if there would be two sets of fans at the derby. “Who knows? We are all looking forward to the derby, and I think some of the Inter fans might come to the game just to oppose their old rivals. But that’s Chinese football right? Nobody knows what will happen.”
The new soccer season has been greeted with a sense of cautious optimism, with crowds slowly but surely returning to the scandal-plagued league. Shanghaiist has only heard of one bribery allegation so far this season, so that’s progress, of sorts.
This post originally appeared on Shanghaiist.
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015