It’s almost over for 2013 but there’s still time to present the annual Chinese Football awards. Our expert panel sat down to review the best and worst of the year, and came up with the usual intriguing selection of winners and losers… agree or disagree? Add your thoughts in the comments section.
Chinese Player of the Year – Zhang Xizhe (Beijing Guoan)
Zhang edges Wu Lei as being the kingpin in the midfield at a top team where his assured and confident play saw him score 11 goals and make two assists. He’s become a leading candidate for a move to Europe, with Celtic already having declared their interest.
Foreign Player of the Year – Dario Conca (Guangzhou Evergrande)
Dario Conca edges it over another Guangzhou Evergrande teammate. Elkeson was very impressive and finished top scorer, but Conca was the absolute heartbeat of the team. Besides his consistent creativity he had a mean goalscoring record. Worth bearing in mind that the Elk scored half of his CSL goals in the first seven games (presumably motivated by the slating he got locally after his Super Cup debut); Conca has actually outscored him in the latter half of the season.
Goalkeeper of the Year – Wang Dalei (Shanghai Shenhua)
A few contenders for this one but Wang Dalei edges it. Outstanding for the second year in a row, he undoubtedly played a big part in keeping Shenhua in the CSL this year, where he not present the Hongkou side may have been in serious trouble. With a less than stellar defence in front of him, which included a 40-year old centre back and a midfielder at right-back, Wang’s finest hour was probably in Shenhua’s smash and grab 2-1 victory over Shandong in the early part of the season as he made countless spectacular saves to give his side an unlikely victory.
Young Player of the Year – Wu Lei (Shanghai East Asia)
Wu Lei has been a player known to many for the past few seasons as one of China’s most promising youngsters, and in his first CSL season he announced his proper arrival on the CSL scene. This year he’s gone from being a China League One up-and-coming youngster to a regular on the national team, the scorer of three hat-tricks to become the CSL’s top Chinese marksman, and alongside Zhang Xizhe, Chinese football’s hottest property.
Manager of the Year – Marcello Lippi (Guangzhou Evergrande)
Marcello Lippi’s achievement of a CSL title and Asian Champions League crown might not quite be up there with the World Cup and European champions league he won in Italy earlier in his career, but its more than good enough to net the veteran Italian boss ‘s manager of the year award. Just missed out narrowly on a treble, we will see how good a manager he really is should he finally take over the Chinese national team as has long been rumoured.
Best Away Fans’ Showing – Shanghai Shenhua @ Wuhan
An epic match and an epic trip saw ‘s very own SEC form part of a 400-strong Shanghai contingent to see Shenhua take on Wuhan. The rest is history.
Match of the Year – Beijing Guoan 1-1 Guangzhou Evergrande
Beijing Guoan and Guangzhou Evergrande brought forth another classic match to reclaim the award this year. In another great advert for the CSL, the game was “everything the Chinese Super League could be, two great clubs, two top managers, a packed, emotional stadium and it delivered all that was promised ahead of time,” according to our report.
Best Chant – Beijing Guoan fans against Dalian Aerbin – “give us back the Blue Wave”
Songs don’t translate easily from one language to another at the best of times, but Guoan supporters chanting “huan wo ji lang” (give us back Blue Wave) was a slap in the face for Dalian Aerbin on their visit to Gongti. Blue Wave are the nationally-respected, long-standing ultras group of their former city rivals, eight-times Champions Dalian Shide who tragically folded last year.
Fool of the Year – Zhu Ting (Wuhan Zall)
Zhu Ting is allegedly a 28-year-old seasoned football professional, but his behaviour at the end of his Wuhan side’s visit to Shanghai Shenhua towards the end of the season was that of a toddler enraged that his lollipop had been taken away from him. He cut a ridiculous figure whilst restrained by his team-mate, his legs kicking in the air scrappy-do style, struggling to be free to remonstrate with the referee over what he believed was an undue penalty award. No matter the validity of the decision, Zhu had no right to completely lose control of himself, much less run on the pitch at the final whilst in an attempt to assault the referee. An embarrassment.
Worst Kit of the Year – White away kits
‘s panel this year nominated every team with a white away kit, which is an alarming number including R&F, Shenhua, Guoan Qingdao, Shandong, Aerbin, Changchun, Wuhan, Guizhou, Jiangsu, Shanghai East Asia and Shanghai Shenxin. Curiously, last year’s winners of this dubious award, Shenxin, change their home colours to blue but kept last year’s home kit as a third strip. Please, more imagination, CSL club kit choosers!
Biggest Waste of Foreign Player slot – Chris Dickson – Shanghai East Asia
A shocking signing from the very outset, coming from a mighty background of English non-league side Erith & Belvedere and Dulwich Hamlet before taking Cyprus by storm. He played a whopping 5 games before East Asia realized they’d been sold mus-labeled goods he now plays for Dagenham and Redbridge…
Stupidest Decision of the Year: Qingdao selling Zheng Long to Guangzhou Evergrande
A cut and dried case of idiocy here – Qingdao, perennial relegation strugglers, sold their star midfielder to Guangzhou Evergrande, a side not exactly short on creative talent. It all ended in tears for Qingdao as their form dipped and the Shandong province side were relegated for the first time in 17 years.
The Bezek Award for Heroic Deeds – Jinan Police laser pen clampdown
A common scourge at Chinese football games, laser pens are at best an irritating distraction from the action and at worst hazardous to eyesight. Unfortunately however police at games seem either unwilling or somehow unable to reprehend culprits. However, during Beijing Guoan’s visit to Shandong’s Olympic stadium in October, Jinan police caught and charged an idiot who was shining a laser at players during the match between Shandong and Guoan. applauds the authorities for taking steps to improve fan experience for once.