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Shandong’s young African import

In every sport young players are compared to more established ones. No matter what media outlet it allows the consumer to get a better understanding of the lesser known player’s abilities. In football alone every country seems to have its own Lionel Messi or Christiano Ronaldo. These comparisons are usually never fair and off base as well. It just puts unneeded pressure on the youngster who usually struggles under the weight.

One player though who seemed to be justly labeled was Simao Mate Junior, who was compared to fellow African footballer Michael Essien. Simao is a tough midfielder who could win the ball and even play as a defender if needed. He was even one of ten rising stars chosen by UEFA during the 2008-2009 Champions League season. Panathinaikos topped a group with Internazionale and Werder Bremen with Simao’s finest match being where he effectively handled Werder Bremen’s influential midfielder Diego, who at the time was drawing comparisons to Kaka.

Starting his club career at Greek club Panathinaikos he became a key part of Dutch manager Henk ten Cate’s side. In 2010 he won the league and cup double with Panathinaikos before joining struggling Chinese Super League side Shandong Luneng Taishan on a free. The main draw for Simao seemed to be joining former manager Henk ten Cate.

When Simao joined Shandong the team was on a seven match losing streak. Since Simao, Shandong has won four matches in a row by the impressive score lines of 3-1, 4-0, 3-1 and 3-0. Simao has proved an excellent pick up and being only 23 years old looks to have a bright future in China.

Adem has lived in China a few years spending most of them in Beijing. The capital provides all the football one could ask for. Adem’s knowledge of Chinese cursing and geography were all learnt through watching matches.

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