The inaugural China Cup kicks off in early January with China being joined by Chile, Iceland, and Croatia for the two match competition. With the other sides all being ranked in the top 25 of the FIFA rankings, it looked like this competition was all about raising China’s ranking from its current, dismal 83, as the other countries wouldn’t be able to bring key players since this isn’t an official, FIFA break.
However, nobody talked to China’s manager Marcello Lippi about this, as the Italian picked a roster with seven U23 players and only nine players who’ve previously been capped (and of those four only have a single cap). The only familiar faces for most will be a trio of Shanghai SIPG players, Wu Lei, Cai Huikang, and Yan Junling.
For the first time in almost 10 years, the national team won’t feature a single player from league champions Guangzhou Evergrande, Lippi also ignored players from runners up Jiangsu Suning and Beijing Guoan. While it makes sense for Lippi to take a shot in the dark and try out a number of new players to see if any might be worthy for more important competitions, this complete overhaul will make it harder for these players to stand out. Further, there were a number of more deserving players who haven’t gotten many chances yet in the national team setup, especially considering the number of older players with zero caps that were chosen over younger options.
Here’s the roster and their number of caps:
Shanghai Shenhua: Bai Jiajun(0), Li Jianbin (0), Cao Yunding (1), Mao Jianqing (9)
Shanghai SIPG: Yan Junling (4), Fu Huan (0), Cai Huikang (18), Wu Lei (40)
Tianjin Teda: Yang Qipeng (0), Bai Yuefeng (0), Hu Rentian (1), Hui Jiakang (1)
Hangzhou Greentown: Zou Dehai (0), Chen Zhongliu (0), Feng Gang (0)
Changcun Yatai: Pei Shuai (0), Fan Xiaodong (0)
Yanbian Fude: Cui Min (0), Chi Zhongguo (0)
Henan Jianye: Yin Hongbo (o)
Hebei China Fortune: Gao Zhunyi (0)
Liaoning FC: Yang Shanping (1)
Dalian Yifang (CL1): Wang Jinxian (0)