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New Zealand international Steven Old talks CFA Cup chances against Shandong Luneng

The beauty of the cup! We hear a lot about the English F.A. Cup or the Copa Del Rey these days and many were sucked in by the heroics of Bradford City in the English League Cup, but undoubtedly most have never given much attention to the Chinese FA Cup.

As the season picks up momentum we take a look at the importance of the CFA cup and how it may provide a welcome distraction from the league.

For China League One (CL1) side Shijiazhuang Yongchang Junhao F.C., the coming round of the cup provides the club the chance to make a name for itself and create an upset, or “cupset” to quote the latest internet lingo. Tomorrow night, the northern side face Shandong Luneng, tied for the top spot in the Chinese Super League, four time winners and three time runners-up in the CFA Cup.

After narrowly missing out on promotion last year whilst based in their previous home city in Fujian province , Yongchang Junhao or ‘Smart Hero’ upped sticks in the close season to a new home in Hebei province not for from Beijing. Hebei Yongchang Real Estate were behind the move following its purchase of a 70% of the club. Following their move, Smart Hero now sit 11th in the CL1 and are in search of a new manager following Xu Hui’s departure last week.

Dropping in for a quick chat with Wild East Football on the magic of the cup is New Zealand international Steven Old who after spells with Wellington Phoenix and Kilmarnock, finds himself with the excellently named, Smart Hero.

Steven, thanks for joining Wild East Football, how are you settling in Shijiazhuang?

I’ve settled in well, my teammates have been great with helping me settle in China. Since the club relocated here this season the place is new to the Chinese boys too.

After just a few games you are lining up against Shandong Luneng, joint top of the CSL, how has your side prepared for that? Any chance of an upset?

We are 10 games into the season already and have played some great football. I think on our day we can compete with anyone to be honest. The boys are really looking forward to this match as quite a few are from Shandong themselves; we absolutely have a shot at an upset!

You play in the China’s second tier, what do you make of the bizarre rule that when third tier sides (who are not allowed foreign players) play CSL sides that the CSL side cannot use it’s foreigners?

I think that rule applied to the second division teams too as us foreigners couldn’t play in the last round of the cup against the third tier sides. I totally can understand the reasoning behind it and if it can make the game as fair as possible then why not.

For a look at the full CFA cup draw, please click here.

Pete is from Sheffield, England and came to China in 2008 initially living in Shenyang where he witnessed his first CSL game, Liaoning Whowin v Chengdu Blades. Pete is a fanatic Sheffield Wednesday fan but has picked up football allegiances from various trips, Galatasary in Turkey, Piacenza in Italy and Muangthong United in Thailand. In early 2009 he moved to Beijing and after a brief time started attending Guoan games regularly. Pete graduated in Journalism in the UK and has written for several educational publications on Chinese education for his day job as well as Chinese football for WEF which he wishes was more developed but avidly follows the Imperial Guards on their quest for CSL supremacy regardless.

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