We continue our look back at the past season with a brand new concept – the very first annual Chinese Football awards. Your team of dilligent correspondents highlight the very best – and in some cases worst – of what the world of Chinese football had to offer this year. Here are this year’s winners, as selected by ‘s expert panel.
Chinese Player of the Year – Yang Zhi (Beijing Guoan)
Yang Zhi was an ironman this year, playing in every minute of every match, probably the only Chinese Super League player who can brag of doing that. He deserves an award for that accomplishment alone, but he wasn’t only durable, he was THE MAN in the net, giving up the fewest number of goals despite an aging defense in front of him. He also was the definition of a modern keeper, leading Guoan’s attack from the back.
Foreign Player of the Year – Muriqui (Guangzhou Evergrande)
The Chinese Super League’s golden boot winner with 16 goals, the Brazilian forward was instrumental in Guangzhou Evergrande sealing its first ever Chinese championship, in its first season back in the Chinese Super League. A class above every other striker in the Chinese Super League, players of his calibre and skill level are not often seen in China, and he is one of the reasons why nearly 50,000 fans flocked to Guangzhou’s Tianhe Stadium for every match.
Manager of the Year – Ma Lin (Liaoning FC)
Liaoning star and former manager, Ma Lin, left the front office and came out of retirement in 2008 in a desperate attempt to save the club from relegation. They went down that year, but he brought them right back up and shocked everyone with a top 10 finish last year, only to out-do himself this year, with a team that is the definition of “punching above their weight”, by leading them into the Asian Champions League by finishing third in the Chinese Super League.
Young Player of the Year – Zheng Long (Qingdao Joonon FC)
Zheng Long, who was 22 at the start of the season, matched his previous high of 5 goals but also contributed 13 assists this season. More than anything, Zheng was the team leader, showing poise beyond his years, captaining the side and almost carrying them to the ACL, finishing 6th (5 points away), equalling Qingdao’s best ever top-division finish.
Best Away Fans’ Showing – Jiangsu Sainty @ Hongkou, Shanghai
This picture was taken a little before all the Sainty fans had shown up for what was judged by to be the game of the season (see below). One of the three Yangtze Delta derbies, fans had a four-hour bus journey from Nanjing to Shanghai for the biggest away attendance seen at Hongkou for years.
Match of the Year – Shanghai Shenhua 3-2 Jiangsu Sainty
Quite simply one of the most thrilling games of football in the Chinese Super League every witnessed by your correspondent. Jiangsu Sainty raced into a 2-0 lead at half-time, only for Shenhua to snatch victory right at the death with an outrageous goal from Duvier Riascos. Forever to be remembered as “THAT game” it was a match which had everyone absolutely buzzing in the pub afterwards. Drama, excitement, controversy and a stunning conlcusion, it was an unforgettable and magical advert for Chinese football.
Best Chant – “Thieves, Thieves, Police quickly arrest the thieves / Return our Manhole Covers” (Beijing Guoan sung at Henan Construction)
Henanese people are the Liverpudlians of China, known as petty thieves around the country and not to be trusted. Before the match, there was also a recent spate of stolen manhole covers around the capital, the police caught a few individuals and all were from Henan. Therefore when the sides faced off, Guoan fans, already angered by their treatment in Zhengzhou earlier in the season, took their anger out on the visiting fans with heavily stereotypical chants.
Worst Dive of the Year – Gao Lin (Guangzhou Evergrande)
A .gif speaks a thousand words.
Worst Kit of the Year – Tianjin Teda’s purple change strip
A fairly hideous effort this year from Tianjin, although the competition was tough, as our earlier post this season reveals.
Biggest Waste of Foreign Player slot – Davi
Brazillian striker Davi is something of a legend. He became affectionately known to our readers as Buster Gonad after being the subject matter of the now infamous headline Swollen testicles behind Beijing star’s early exit. The unfortunate South American left Beijing Guoan without playing a game after a medical examination revealed an anatomical anomoly in Davi’s groin area. Following his untimely departure, Davi was last spotted pushing his wheelbarrow through the training ground doors of J-League side Ventforet Kofu.
Stupidest Decision of the Year: Hiring Jose Camacho just one month before China’s World Cup qualifiers began.
Almost everyone connected with Chinese football was puzzled when Jose Antonio Camacho was appointed head coach of the national team just three weeks before China’s World Cup qualifiers kicked off in September. With China’s World Cup dreams lying in tatters for another four years after failing to seal passage from an easy preliminary qualifying group, the timing of his appointment beat off fierce competition to seal the stupidest decision of the year award.
The First Annual Bezek Award for Heroic Deeds – Drazen Bezek (Shanghai Shenhua head coach)
We here at were so profoundly moved by the outstanding gallantry of Shanghai Shenhua manager Drazen Besek during a Chinese Super League match in October that we have named an award in his honour. The Serbian was so incensed by the pathetic play-acting of one of his own players that he angrily charged onto the pitch and dragged the injury-faking offender to his feet. Anyone who has watched a Chinese Super League game will now just how ridiculous this spectacle is and how it undermines the credibility of the entire league. So, the Besek Award will be bestowed upon similar heroes every year from now on, for meritorious deeds which benefit Chinese football.
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