New China football season kicks off

New China football season kicks off

SHANGHAI – Agence France-Presse
New China football season kicks off

The new Chinese Super League season begins with the Guangzhou derby on March 1 when Fabio Cannavaro’s reigning champions Evergrande host southern city rivals R&F.

But Chinese football has lost some of its luster: Carlos Tevez is back in Argentina after his disastrous year at Shanghai Shenhua and new rules means Chinese clubs have not splurged on foreign talent as in previous years.

Javier Mascherano has, however, arrived at Hebei China Fortune from Barcelona and the expensive Brazilians Oscar and Hulk will again lead Shanghai SIPG’s title assault.

Chinese football fans could be forgiven for being skeptical about Hebei China Fortune’s signing of Mascherano. The 33-year-old central defender’s career has been closely intertwined with his fellow Argentine Tevez, who was dubbed “very homesick boy” by disgruntled

Shanghai Shenhua fans last year. But Mascherano, the most eye-catching arrival in the winter transfer window, is no Tevez when it comes to attitude and could be smart business given the former Liverpool and Barcelona player’s wealth of experience.

Italian World Cup winner Cannavaro steered Tianjin Quanjian into the AFC Champions League last season before quitting to take over from Luiz Felipe Scolari at Guangzhou Evergrande, which has won the CSL for the last seven seasons. An eighth will be tough because Evergrande did not significantly strengthen in the close season.

Early results for Cannavaro have been mixed, drawing twice in the Champions League, including a 1-1 home draw with Thailand’s Buriram United. Evergrande did defeat Shenhua 4-1 in the Chinese Super Cup.