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League One Team of the Week – Round 12: 6 Beijing Based Players and a New International Star

After another two week absence brought about by technical issues, League One’s Team of the Week returns and is dominated by Beijing as six players based in the capital make it into our XI. To compensate for out absence, we’ve also included the teams from rounds 10 & 11 as an added bonus below. All players play in, or very close to, the position they played this week and the team follows League One rules meaning only three foreigners and an under-23 player in the XI. The team is in a 4-1-4-1

Goalkeeper – Zou Dehai – Hangzhou Greentown

No contest here as the 24-year-old stopper was outstanding in his side’s 1-0 defeat to Wuhan Zall. Zou made nine saves before Yao Hanlin’s perfectly placed 20-yard shot beat him in the 84th minute. Those stops included a Marcelo Moreno penalty, and a spectacular stop from the Bolivian international’s overhead kick. Zou was called up to the national team as part of an experimental squad for January’s China Cup and, if he can replicate this kind of performance more regularly, more international involvement and a big money CSL move could be in his future.

Right-back – Deng Hanwen(U-23) – Beijing Renhe

Believe it or not, this inclusion isn’t based on Deng’s eye-catching performance for China in a friendly against the Philippines on Wednesday night, but rather for his defensive display in Beijing Renhe’s 0-0 draw with Shenzhen FC. Deng was part of an excellent back four which totally snuffed out almost any attack Shenzhen could muster. Even a harsh penalty being awarded against him in the second half couldn’t detract from the performance of a player who has struggled defensively at times. Given the obvious offensive upside he showed on Wednesday night with two excellent goals for China in Guangzhou, adding more defensive nous to his game could push the 22-year-old to the next level.

Centre Back – Johnny – Yunnan Lijiang

A monster display from the big Brazilian who simply disposed of every ball which came his way. Lijiang earned a 0-0 draw as opponents Zhejiang Yiteng failed to score for the first time in nine home matches, and the former Shanghai Shenxin centre back was the main reason for that. With their attack struggling, a strong defensive foundation is Lijiang’s best hope of survival and if Johnny keeps performing like this they will have little to worry about.

Centre Back – Wang Qiang – Beijing Renhe

Things haven’t gone entirely smoothly for the veteran centre back since Renhe signed him from Shandong Luneng prior to the 2016 season, with inconsistent performances meaning he hasn’t always been first choice. In recent weeks, though, he’s struck up an excellent partnership with Luo Xin whose athleticism has proved the perfect foil for Wang’s wily veteran instincts. The 34-year-old’s experience was fully on show this week as he kept League One top scorer Harold Preciado in his pocket.

Left-back – Rao Weihui – Beijing Renhe

Rao rounds out a trio of Beijing Renhe defenders who make it into this week’s team. The 28-year-old was on the fringes of the Chinese national team back in 2015 and has overcome an injury hit 2016 to be back on form this year. Yet another fine all-round display this week consolidates Rao’s status as the best left-back in the division and it seems probable that, one way or another, he will be back in the CSL next season.

Defensive Midfield – Wen Chih-hao – Beijing BG

Following some fine substitute displays in recent weeks, the Chinese Taipei international was given his first league start of the season against Baoding Rongda and rewarded Gao Hongbo’s faith with a dynamic display. The 24-year-old was all over the pitch as his side romped into a 4-0 lead inside the first 55 minutes. He, along with his teammates, took his foot off the gas in the latter stages as their opponents grabbed two consolation goals, but he has justified his inclusion in the first XI and should be used regularly moving forward.

Right-wing – Yan Xiangchuang – Beijing BG

The captain has begun a slow return to form since Gao Hongbo took the reigns at BG and that continued this week as he put in his best performance of the season. Yan created plenty of chances as BG’s attack tore Baoding’s defence apart and he found the net from the penalty spot having drawn the foul himself. The 30-year-old is still some way from the levels which made him the best domestic player in the division over the last two seasons, but this performance also suggests that his best days may not yet be behind him.

Central Midfield – Joan Verdu – Qingdao Huanghai

The Spanish playmaker ran the show as Huanghai ran out 3-1 winners against Dalian Transcendence. The 34-year-old is really finding his groove in the Chinese second tier and he twice found the net this week to go along with his generally dominant display in the middle of the park. Verdu’s first was a penalty, but his second strike was a sublime 70th minute lob which restored his side’s two goal lead just as it looked like Transcendence might be fighting back.

Attacking Midfield– Wang Jianwen – Beijing BG (1)

Wang struck his seventh goal of the season in the second half against Baoding Rongda, to go alongside the assist he produced in the first 45 minutes. Wang’s output continues to be exceptional this season and he has consolidated his place as the top Chinese goal scorer in the division. Not bad for a midfielder that has been relegated from League One in each of his last two seasons.

Left-wing – Godfred Karikari – Qingdao Huanghai

Few who have seen Karikari play would doubt that his work rate is second to none, but an end product is often lacking. That wasn’t the case this week, though, as the Hong Kong international scored a goal to supplement yet another lively display down the left flank. The Ghanaian born winger’s six years in China will most likely come to an end after this season as his contract is up and Hong Kong players signing new contracts now count as foreign players under revised CFA rules. It is because of performances like this that it will be a shame to see him go.

Forward – Yannick Boli – Dalian Yifang

Boli was starting his first game in five weeks following injury, but gave Dalian Yifang a glimpse at what they’d been missing when a five minute flash at the beginning of the second half rescued a point for his side. Shanghai Shenxin were 2-0 up at the interval but, within five minutes of the restart, Boli had crossed for Nyasha Mushekwi’s headed goal and scored one of his own to bring things level. Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard’s Yves Ekwalla Herman and Baoding Rongda’s Jonathan Owoeri both netted twice this week, but each needed a penalty to supplement their total and neither had such a significant impact on the outcome of their game as Boli.

Round 10 & 11 Teams of the Week

Round 10 – 4-1-4-1

Zhou Yajun (Shenzhen FC); Deng Hanwen (U23 – Beijing Renhe), Kim Hyun-hun (Yunna Lijiang), Yang Yun (Qingdao Huanghai), Zhang Tianlong (Hohhot Zhongyou); Ma Xingyu (Qingdao Huanghai);  Abdugheni (U23 – Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard), Verdu (Qingdao Huanghai), Wang Jianwen (Beijing BG), Bu Xin (Beijing BG); Herman (Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard)

Round 12 – 4-4-2

Sun Shuobo (Wuhan Zall)Xu Qing (Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard), Xu Bo (Shijiazhuang Ever Bright), Song Xie (Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard), Lv Jianjun (Shijiazhuang Ever Bright); Kouassi (Wuhan Zall), Wang Peng (Shijiazhuang Ever Bright), Zhang Hongjian (U23 – Meizhou Hakka), Biro-Biro (Shanghai Shenxin); Men Yang (Yunnan Lijiang), Jailton Paraiba (Dalian Transcendence)

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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