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League One Team of the Week – Round 3: Defenders Dominant in Low Scoring Round

A low scoring third round of League One action is in the record books and it’s time for the team of the week. With just thirteen goals scored across eight matches this week, we’ve opted for a 5-3-2 formation in order to reflect the defensive nature of the action. All players play in, or very close to, their correct position and the team follows League One rules meaning only three foreigners and an under-23 player in the XI.

Goalkeeper – Cui Kai – Dalian Transcendence

With Guo Wei departing Transcendence for Shanghai Shenxin in the off-season, Cui Kai was promoted from the bench to the number one spot and had a rough start conceding nine times in his first two matches. This week was a different story, though, as he made some fine saves against Hohhot Zhongyou including highlight reel stops from a long range Nizamdin Afanti shot and at close quarters from Andre Senghor. Honourable mentions go to Yunnan Lijiang’s Cai Haochen and Meizhou Hakka’s Hou Yu who both made some fine stops, but weren’t error free like Cui.

Right Wing-back – Nizamdin Afanti – Hohhot Zhongyou

The Xinjiang born Afanti only lasted 45 minutes before being subbed off with a muscle injury, but he made a strong impression in that time. Zhongyou play a 5-4-1 transitioning into a 3-4-3 which allows the 25-year-old plenty of attacking freedom at home and he took full advantage of it by being all over the field in the first half. Afanti’s defending his questionable, but he seems to be incredibly fit and looked like the toothless Zhongyou’s biggest attacking threat before his afternoon was cut short.

Centre Back – Johnny – Yunnan Lijiang

We already highlighted the importance of Johnny’s return from injury to Lijiang’s defence in our Talking Points article and the big Brazilian was immense against a dangerous Beijing Renhe attack. There were signs of fitness issues towards the end of the match as he got a little sloppy, but the former Shanghai Shenxin stalwart had already done more than enough for inclusion in this week’s best XI.

Centre Back – Wang Guanyi – Hangzhou Greentown

Wang signed from Tianjin TEDA over the winter and was converted from a defensive midfielder to centre back as cover for Hangzhou’s injured Australian international Matthew Spiranovic. The 27-year-old seemed to struggle in the role in round 1, but has shown rapid improvement over a short time. His midfield background means he plays the ball out well but, more importantly, he defended very solidly this week and helped keep dangerous Shenxin attacker Biro-Biro relatively quiet.

Centre Back – Gibril Sankoh – Meizhou Hakka

Meizhou’s captain put on a fine defensive display this week to keep Shijiazhuang Ever Bright out for 89 minutes before he unluckily deflected in a Jacob Mulenga equaliser. The Sierra Leonean’s tussle with the powerful Mulenga was an intense one which he largely came out on top of and it was almost enough for Meizhou to seal a surprising win in Hebei.

Left Wing-back – Rao Weihui – Beijing Renhe

No outstanding candidates in the role this week, so we’ll put in Rao Weihui who made his season debut for Renhe having missed the first two games of the season. It seems like a long time ago now, but Rao was involved with the Chinese national team just a couple of years ago and hasn’t really kicked on since. Hardly an earth-shattering performance this week, but the Guangdong native offered a threat going forward and kept Yunnan Lijiang right-winger Kaio very quiet in their 0-0 draw.

Defensive Midfield – Zhou Heng – Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard

There’s nothing pretty about what Zhou did this week, but he played a major role in disrupting Qingdao Huanghai’s usually fluid passing game. Xinjiang ended up losing the game 1-0 thanks to an unfortunate penalty, but that had nothing to do with Zhou who caused Jordi Vinyals’ men all kinds of problems and, in something of a backhanded compliment, brought Huanghai down to Xinjiang’s level.

Central Midfield – Yao Junsheng(U23) – Meizhou Hakka 

Yao gets included as the under-23 player for the second week in a row after another impressive display in the Meizhou midfield. Yao saw much less of the ball this week, but still did a lot with it and assisted Japa’s goal with an excellent long range pass from his own half. If Yao carries on like this he will almost certainly show up in the CSL next year. Honourable mention for Dalian Yifang’s Cui Mingan who is also a U23 midfielder that managed an assist this week when his free kick set-up Yannick Boli’s goal.

Central Midfield – Huang Xiyang – Wuhan Zall

Huang exchanged outstanding free-kicks with Beijing BG’s Wang Jianwen this week as Wuhan triumphed 2-1. In fact, Wang’s free kick was better but Huang’s overall performance was superior as he helped his side control the game and secure a relatively comfortable victory. The 31-year-old had to go off injured with 20 minutes left, but the damage was already done by that point as Wuhan earned their first win of the season.

Forward – Aboubakar Oumarou – Shenzhen FC

Slight bit of cheating here as Oumarou is a winger, not a central striker, but he deserves his place in the team thanks to the best attacking performance in the division this week. The Cameroonian opened the scoring for Shenzhen against Baoding Rongda with a perfectly weighted 25-yard lob and provided the cross for Lars Saetra’s own goal which made the score 2-1. All three of Shenzhen’s foreign attackers have been excellent so far this year, but so far it’s Oumarou, who has proven to be the standout.

Forward – Zhang Shuoke – Yunnan Lijiang

No goal this week for Zhang who scored in each of the first two matches, but a hard working display as the lone striker and he gets in as the foreign player quota has already been used up. Zhang, who has been with the club since its maiden season in 2013, had little to do in the first half, but he played a pivotal role in the increasing threat Lijiang offered on the counterattack in the second half. Zhang celebrates his 28th birthday today and WEF’s gift to him is an inclusion in the League One team of the week .

Based in China for five years, Jamie has been exploring tiny little third tier Hubei cities without football teams or decent internet connections, but is now a regular at China League One side Wuhan Zall. A keen football afficionado, he regularly takes in the Chinese Super League, enjoying matches in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Nanjing. Jamie is also a keen observer of the fortunes of the Chinese National side.

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