Shanghai Shenhua turned over second division Yanbian 1-0 on Wednesday night to make it to the semi-finals of the relaunched CFA cup. Despite their awful league form, the boys in blue maanged to overcome their lower-league opponents without too much difficulty and should have won more comfortably. The match was held in controversial circumstances in Wuhu, in Anhui province, despite Shenhua being drawn at home – Wuhu city government reportedly greased the palms of Shenhua’s colourful owner, Zhu Jun, with a large amount of money to host this game – a disgraceful decision which angered many Shenhua fans. However that didn’t stop a large number making the 300km trip.
Cao Yunding scored the only goal of the game an impressive solo effort which saw him beat a couple of defenders then slot the ball home with a precise finish. It was his first competitive goal for Shenhua. The goal saw Shenhua fans do something they haven’t done since 2006 – set off flares in the crowd, as per their former traditional goal celebration. This practise has been banned at Hongkou stadium for five years. Since then, you can let off fireworks in Shanghai at any time and in anyplace, except Hongkou.
Other notable incidents in the game included Luis Salmeron hiting the bar, and Feng Renliang firing straight at the keeper when it was easier to score.
Shenhua’s opponents, Yanbian are one of China’s more interesting professional teams. The club is based in the Korean Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in northeast China’s Jilin province and borders North Korea. Around 40% of Yanbian prefecture’s population is ethnic Korean, and the street signs are bilingual Korean and Chinese. The club has three South Koreans on its books currently, as well as Jin Jingdao, a promising young ethnic Korean Chinese striker who has already played for the Chinese national team. In addition, promising Beijing Guoan youngster Piao Cheng is another ethnic Korean Chinese started his career with the club. Yanbian played in China’s top level league for the first six seasons of that competitions existence, before being bought out by Hangzhou Greentown and reformed. Currently they are 11th in the 14-team China League.
Shenhua will play away at Tianjin in the semi-final on October 19. Shanghai have had a somewhat easy route to the semi – they were given a bye directly to the quarter finals on account of being an ACL participant this year, and then drawn against a lower-league team. Should they overcome Tianjin, there is the exciting prospect of a China Derby final on the cards, should Beijing Guoan overcome Shandong in the other semi.
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