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League One Team of the Week – Round 8: Mushekwi the Star, a Barcelona Youth Player and Three Players from Hangzhou

It’s time again for our League One team of the week featuring multiple entries from Hangzhou Greentown, Dalian Yifang, Dalian Transcendence and Meizhou Hakka, as well as a Barcelona youth team product. Yifang’s Nyasha Mushekwi was the undoubted star of the round, but there were plenty of good performances to rave about, including a fantastic goalkeeping display. As always, 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. This week’s team is in a 4-1-4-1 formation.

Goalkeeper – Cui Kai – Dalian Transcendence

No contest this week as Cui made no less than seven saves to protect his team’s 2-1 win over Baoding Yingli Yitong in what may have been the best single goalkeeping performance all year. All of stops could at the very least be categorized as “good saves” and he made two remarkable double stops in the second half with his side desparately trying to hold on to their lead. Cui was only given his starting opportunity when Guo Wei departed for Shanghai Shenxin in the winter, but he’s taken it with both hands.

Right-back – Shan Pengfei – Dalian Yifang

Prior to this week’s match, Shan’s most notable appearance of the season had come during his shambolic turn at centre back against Qingdao Huanghai in round 4. But the 24-year-old’s primary position is at right-back and he put on a fine display this week in Yifang’s crunch clash with Shenzhen FC. Shan assisted Mushekwi’s first with a fine deep cross in the 4th minute and, aside from one moment in the first half where he was bested, he did a great job of handling Shenzhen’s frightening winger Aboubakar Oumarou. With Yifang’s first choice right-back Zhu Ting eating a seven match ban 24 hours before this game, we will be seeing a lot more of Shan in the near future.

Centre Back – Gibril Sankoh – Meizhou Hakka

The big man was in top form as his side held out to beat the Shanghai Shenxin 2-1 on Saturday night. As usual, the Sierra Leonean didn’t put a foot wrong and caused havoc with his accurate long balls, but he was particularly dominant in the second half where he seemed to be heading or volleying clear a Shenxin cross every 30 seconds or so. Sankoh has consistently been the best centre back in the division this season and one wonders where the struggling Meizhou might be without him.

Centre Back – Wang Hongyou – Dalian Transcendence

It’s not everyday that a centre-back scores twice, and that fact alone is enough for Wang to warrant inclusion in our team. The 32-year-old’s first came from the penalty spot and his second was a well taken volley just before half-time which was enough to give his side a 2-1 victory over Baoding Yingli Yitong. To cap things off, Wang put on a pretty good display at the other end, too.

Left-back – Ge Zhen – Hangzhou Greentown

With no foreigners and four under-20 players in their squad, Hangzhou needed their veterans to step up against Beijing BG this week and Ge came through. The 29-year-old defended well and offered plenty of support in attack as his side cruised to a 3-1 half-time lead. In the second half, with his side under the cosh, Ge defended very well before tiring a little in the final minutes.

Defensive Midfield – Wang Peng – Shijiazhuang Ever Bright

A few contenders here this week, including 20-year-old Hangzhou Greentown midfielder Wu Wei, but Shijiazhuang deserve some representation in this week’s team and Wang Peng’s display in the centre of their midfield three makes him worthy on inclusion. This was just the 24-year-old’s second appearance of the season following an injury, but he made up for lost time as Wuhan were unable to create anything of note in the centre of the park. As well as harrassing and haranguing Wuhan’s players all afternoon, Wang also created the goal when his long throw cleared the Wuhan defence and allowed Jacob Mulenga to fire home in the ensuing scramble.

Right-Wing – Ouyang Xue – Meizhou Hakka

Ouyang no doubt couldn’t believe his luck when Shanghai Shenxin goalkeeper Guo Wei passed the ball straight to him in the fourth minute. The former Guizhou Zhicheng winger still had a lot to do, though, as he calmly fired home to give his side the lead. He remained a pest throughout the first half and was unlucky to hit the bar with a long range effort which seemed to have Guo beat. Duties were primarily defensive in the seconf half, but the damage had already been done.

Central Midfield – Joan Verdu – Qingdao Huanghai

Just last week we said that Verdu would have made our team had it not been for us using the foreign quota elsewhere. But with a lack of outstanding displays in other positions, the 34-year-old Spaniard gets in for his part in yet another impressive and asthetically pleasing display of possession football from Huanghai. Their may have been no goals, but the former La Liga start put on a virtuoso display. The Barcelona youth team product didn’t immediately impree at the start of his debut season, but is now coming into his own and is making great use of the time he gets on the ball in China’s second tier.

Central Midfield– Cheng Jin(U23) – Hangzhou Greentown

A very busy first half display from Cheng was a key reason that Hangzhou found themselves 3-0 up on Beijing BG this week after just 40 minutes. The 22-year-old only directly contributed one assist to Hangzhou’s three strikes, but his mobility and link up play with fellow attacker Luo Jing, Gao Huaze and Zang Yifeng had BG’s players, including Chiek Tiote, chasing shadows. Cheng has represented the Chinese national team at every level except senior level and it was clear why this week. Needs to start doing it more consistently to take the next step in his career, though.

Left-wing – Zang Yifeng – Hangzhou Greentown

Zang only played the first half against Beijing BG, but by the time he was replaced by Chen Po-liang the damage had already been done. Their seemed to be little prospect of Zang getting a first team look in this season, but Hangzhou’s injury woes, combined with an excellent performance in the club’s 4-3 CFA Cup win over Liaoning Whowin gave him a rare league start. And the 23-year-old took just 10 minutes to repay Hyung Mong-bo’s faith in him when he ran on to a long throw from goalkeeper Zou Dehai before cutting inside and firing home. His saved shot in a goalmouth scramble also gifted Chen Xiao the chance to score Hangzhou’s second and he was an all-round headache for BG in the first 45 minutes. Barring an unreported injury, he was presumably subbed off as it was felt that Chen could offer more defensive cover, but it will be interesting to see if he has done enough over the last two games to warrant more involvement in upcoming matches.

Forward – Nyasha Mushekwi – Dalian Yifang

Mushekwi’s legendary performance against Shenzhen FC was covered in some detail by yesterday’s Talking Points article and there’s not a great deal to add except to reiterate how remarkable what he did was. The Zimbabwean outjumped Cui Min and Guan Zhen in the 4th minute to head home his sides opener and drew fould after foul from Shenzhen’s scurrying defenders. The one that caught all the attention was Wang Dalong’s horror lunge which might have broken the leg of a mere mortal, but was merely a temporary blip in Mushekwi’s afternoon as he was heading home a second within minutes of the foul. A missed penalty in stoppage time denied him a deserved hat-trick, but this was Mushekwi’s day and his goal tally of eight goals from eightgames doesn’t fully quantify his importance to Yifang.

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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