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Empty Stands Greets Chinese Super League Opener



Nigeria’s Anthony Ujah’s club, Liaoning Whowin in the Chinese league on Friday played a 1-1 draw with the newly promoted Guizhou Zhicheng as the Chinese Super League season got off to a low-key start.

It was a low point for a league that had been agog following an end of season multi-dollar spending that saw many renowned players moving eastward from Europe.

Friday’s match was at the 52,000 capacity Guiyang Olympic Sports Centre which was closed to spectators due to a celebratory pitch invasion after the final game of last season, with the on-field shouts of both sets of players clearly audible throughout a forgettable spectacle.

Visitors Liaoning hit the front after 14 minutes, with Captain James Chamanga converting from the spot after Guizhou’s on-loan Guangzhou Evergrande defender Han Pengfei was harshly punished for a coming together with Australia international Robbie Kruse.

Experienced striker Nikica Jelavic provided Guizhou’s main threat during the opening stages of the second half, glancing on to the roof of the net and shooting narrowly wide before he joined Chamanga in making no mistake from 12 yards – the former Rangers and Everton man having drawn a foul from Assani Lukimya.


Jelavic was at the heart of the action once more when Liaoning goalkeeper Shi Xiaotian inexplicably burst from his area to bring down the 31-year-old and earn a red card, although the hosts could not make their numerical advantage count.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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