Chinese FA Cup surprise side Qingdao Hainiu arranged themselves a local derby against Chinese Super League heavyweights Shandong Luneng in the last four after a great run sees them compete for a spot in the final.
Hainiu are new to the Chinese second tier but have hit the ground running and sit an impressive seventh, just one point behind city rivals Qingdao Jonoon but it is their CFA Cup run that has bagged the headlines as they eliminated Dalian Wangqianguan, Tianjin Teda and then both Wuhan Hongxing and Henan Jianye on penalties.
The seasiders will face of in a two-legged semi-final against one of Chinese football’s biggest clubs in Shandong Luneng but Hainiu are not intimidated, says their Cameroonian defender Yves Ekwalla Herman who spoke to Wild East Football following their Henan win.
“I am glad to be in the Chinese FA Cup semi-finals, everyone is happy because this is great for the history of the club,” Herman said.
He went on to state, “now we are looking forward to the next opponent Shandong which is a derby but we don’t need famous players to win a football match, we just need to play the way we have been playing.”
Herman is no stranger to big matches having moved to China in early 2013 with Chongqing Lifan from Thai side Buriram United where he won one Thai league title, two FA cups and two league cups.
“I played in the AFC Champions league two years ago with Buriram and we played against many famous players so I am just waiting for that challenge again. Coming to China was easy because I was playing in the Thai Premier League and it was my choice to come to China League One with Chongqing and I have been here for two years now so I see my future in Chinese football,” said the 29 year old.
Hainiu made some solid signings for the 2014 season bringing in experienced Chinese players such as goalkeeper Yu Ziqian and midfielder Wang Xuanhong from Dalian, Estonia international striker Vladimir Voskoboinikov, and ex-Charlton Athletic defender Kelly Youga.
Herman, himself a 2014 signing with five goals to date, points to the addition of experienced China international striker Qu Bo from Guizhou Renhe as significant for the club.
“Qu Bo has been a good signing because of his experience and he can bring that into the young team, we hope to see great things from him” he said.
Hainiu’s run has had an element of luck with two penalty shootout victories, but a highly impressive 4-1 victory over CSL side Tianjin Teda stands out and will undoubtedly raise eyebrows at Luneng ahead of the semi-final fixture.
“[In the last two games] we are lucky to go through because it’s penalties but on penalties anyone is lucky if they win that way. We beat Tianjin 4-1 but this was not surprising as we believe in ourselves, we have drawn a lot but we can still challenge in the league and are confident in the cup,” said Herman.
Qingdao Hainiu face Shandong Luneng away at Jinan Olympic Stadium in the first leg of their CFA Cup semi-final on the 1st or 2nd of October with the second leg at their home ground, Yizhong Sports Stadium on the 22nd or 23rd of October.
Beijing-based Peter Davis has followed Chinese football since 2008 and is a regular contributor to Wild East Football. He can be found on Twitter and Weibo @peteydavis