While we may not have a Chinese Super League season schedule, we do have word on how this year’s CFA Cup will work. One of the most anticipated announcements coming out of the meeting was the decision regarding the format of the tournament, this year the competition is to feature a total of 48 teams, a major expansion over last year’s competition.
Of the 48 clubs to take part, the 32 clubs from the top two flights will take part in the tournament alongside 16 clubs from the 3rd division, university sides, and semi-pro teams. For those hoping to see top flight teams have to go on the road to tiny provincial clubs, you’re in for disappointment. Like last year’s competition, the CFA has determined that home field will be decided based on ranking the previous season. The reasoning for this goes that the higher ranked teams will have better pitch conditions, better conditions for the fans, and have broadcasting capabilities already in place, which might not be the case for a 3rd or even 2nd division club.
The schedule looks like this:
First Round: May 26
Second Round: June 2 (At this point, China League teams will join in)
Third Round: June 26 (Chinese Super League clubs will come in here)
Fourth Round: July 18 (The top three Chinese Super League teams and last year’s CFA Cup get a bye to this point)
Quarterfinals: August 1
Semifinals: Played over two legs between August 22 to September 26
Finals: Played over two legs on November 10 and 17 (or 18 and 24 if a Chinese club is in the ACL Finals)
That’s right, this tournament truly an FA Cup with “Chinese characteristics”, implementing a very unique two leg final. The CSl has said this is to allow both sets of fans to take part in the excitement of the final, allowing more people to enjoy it. Of course, it also easily avoids having to deal with calls for the Bird’s Nest (or some other neutral site) to host the title game. Once again you see a lot of space between the quarterfinals, the semis, and the final, though it isn’t as bad as last season and I kind of like playing the final after the Chinese Super League season. The decision to include an additional 16 teams is a step in the right direction, there’s still plenty of room for improvement, but like anything in China, baby steps, it looks like things are slowly moving in the right direction.
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