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League One Team of the Week – Round 9: 4 Hohhot and 2 U23 Players Make the List

There were only seven matches played in round 9, but there was still plenty going on in a week that featured a Zhejiang derby and couple of shock results. This round’s Team of the Week includes no less than four Hohhot Zhongyou players, as well as two U23s and a striker who broke his duck in style. This weeks team is in a 442 with the midfield in a diamond formation. As usual, all players play in, or very close to, the position they played this and the team follows League One rules meaning only three foreigners and at least one under-23 player in the XI. Number of inclusions in TOW added in brackets.

Goalkeeper – Hou Yu – Meizhou Hakka (1)

Meizhou earned a 1-1 draw away to Dalian Transcendence this week and they wouldn’t have been able to do it without Hou. The lanky stopped made three outstanding saves to keep his side in the game while they were 1-0 behind – the best of which came when he showed lightening quick reactions to push away a close range Ivan Bozic snapshot. The 30-year-old has been given the chance to start this season, having been third choice last year, and he’s taken the opportunity to prove himself as one of the best pure shot-stoppers in the division. Hou still struggles on crosses, but that didn’t prove to be a factor this week as he gave his side the platform to grab a late equaliser.

Right-back – Nizmadin Afanti – Hohhot Zhongyou (2)

A second inclusion in our team of the week for the super-fit Xinjiang native who showed boundless energy as he plowed his way up and down the right-flank during his sides 2-0 victory over Qingdao Huanghai. The 26-year-old’s defensive qualities remain questionable, but his endless running almost seems to give his side a man advantage at times. Afanti offered plenty of support in attack and was always on hand to harass any Huanghai players in possession of the ball on his side of the field.

Centre Back – Luo Hao (U23) – Nei Mongol Zhongyou (1)

It’s been a difficult season for the error prone Luo, but he played a key role in Zhongyou’s victory this week. The 22-year-old seemed to act as a magnet for any high ball delivered into Zhongyou’s half, and he also made a couple of key tackles as his side emerged triumphant over Qingdao Huanghai. There was one error in the second half where he mis-timed a penalty area header, but Luo was quickly able to recover and make a well-timed tackle to snuff out the danger and save his own blushes.

Centre Back – Li Chao – Wuhan Zall

Li arrived in Wuhan this winter as one of their high profile pre-season signings, having made his name as captain of Shijiazhuang Ever Bright during their 2014 promotion run and two year CSL stint. The 29-year-old has had a slightly underwhelming start to the season, but was in top form this week where he did everything right as Wuhan snuffed out Shenzhen FC’s dangerous attack. Li made two sliding blocks of dangerous looking crosses and otherwise shackled League One top scorer Harold Preciado who rarely got a sniff of goal.

Left-back – Xu Xiaolong – Shanghai Shenxin (1)

No really notable performances at left-back this week, so we’ll put in Xu Xiaolong who attacked well during Shenxin’s 2-1 loss to Beijing BG, even if he didn’t do enough on the defensive side. The 28-year-old Hebei CFFC loanee spent much of the game in BG’s half and it was his tricky cross which forced the unfortunate Liu Yi to put the ball through his own net for Shenxin’s equaliser.

Defensive Midfield – Adam Hughes – Zhejiang Yiteng (3)

The veteran Australian earns a third call-up to our team of the week for yet another standout performance in a high profile home match. A highly anticipated Zhejiang derby played out on a diabolical pitch is exactly the kind of game Hughes was built for, and he didn’t disappoint as he terrorised Hangzhou Greentown’s youthful midfield. The 34-year-old set the tone for the evening early in the first half when he launched a cheeky kick at Sun Zheng’ao as the two players contested the ball in the Hangzhou penalty area, and he all but sealed his status as a club legend by scoring the second goal of their 2-0 win with a long range effort just before the hour mark.

Central Midfield – Zhang Tianxiang – Hohhot Zhongyou (1)

Zhang was given his first start of the season this week in the absence of the injured Li Gen and suspended Yin Lu, and he made the opportunity count by assisting both of Zhongyou’s goals in their 2-0 win over Qingdao Huanghai. First half headed goals from Andre Senghor and Dori both came directly Zhang’s perfectly placed set–pieces and the 28-year-old held his own in a defensive capacity up against Huanghai’s much vaunted midfield.

Central Midfield – Su Shun (U23) – Yunnan Lijiang (1)

A goal and an assist for the former Shanghai Shenhua reserve who helped Lijiang earn their first victory of the season. Su opened the scoring with a fine glancing header from a Meng Yang corner in the 21st minute and then laid the ball off for Men Yang (not the same person as Meng Yang) to score the second. Su was signed just before the start of the season to fill the designated under-23 role and had been subject to a series of first half substitutions until Zhang Biao took the reins at the club a couple of weeks ago and started giving him full games. This week, Su repaid the manager’s faith with his attacking output and also demonstrated his happiness at being given more playing time by remaining Lijiang’s most lively player in what became an increasingly lethargic second half.

Attacking Midfield– Wang Jianwen – Beijing BG (1)

Yet another goal for Wang this week as he takes his tally to five and extends his lead as the division’s highest domestic goalscorer. The 29-year-old actually had a fairly quiet game, but his first half through ball to Bu Xin allowed the winger to assist Jin Hui’s opener and he showed great instinct to convert Yan Xiangchuang’s cross in the second half and give his side a 2-1 win over Shanghai Shenxin.

Striker – Andre Senghor – Hohhot Zhongyou

From the beginning of the game against Qingdao Huanghai, the Senegalese forward looked extremely motivated and decisively came out the winner in his personal battle with opposition centre back Marti Crespi. Having been frustrated early on by the referee giving free kicks against him, Senghor channeled his anger into comprehensively out-jumping Crespi after 15 minutes to head in Zhang Tianxiang’s corner. There were no more goals for the former Shenzhen FC attacker, but he remained a constant menace to the Huanghai defence and provided the perfect targetman any time his side decided to launch the ball downfield to ease the pressure. There have been strong rumours this week that Senghor will be moving on in the summer. These have been denied by manager Wang Bo and, on the evidence of today and how he helped them turn things around when he arrived last summer, keeping hold of the former international for the rest of the season should be a priority.

Forward – Yves Ekwalla Herman – Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard

It took nine games, but when Herman’s first goal for Xinjiang came it was a beauty. The Cameroonian took Babacar Gueye’s cross on to his barrel chest and, in one fluid movement, turned his man and fired a 10-yard left-footed strike past Shijiazhuang Ever Bright keeper Bai Xiaolei. That happened in the 11th minute of the match and, just four minutes later, the converted centre back outdid himself by scoring with an almost identical movement, but carried out ten yards further from goal and finished off with the opposite foot. Herman didn’t do a great deal after that, but his four minute whirl of ruthless goalscoring was enough to earn his side a 2-2 draw and prove that he is still the same guy who scored 20 goals for Guizhou Zhicheng in 2015.

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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