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CSL Preview: Shanghai Greenland unearth new name for derby

Shanghai Greenland will be keen to regain local bragging rights over Shanghai Shenxin when the Chinese Super League resumes this weekend.

Shenxin have failed to win their past five Shanghai derbies against Greenland but finished as the highest-placed Shanghai club last season.

Under a new head coach, Cheng Yaodong, Shenxin will aim to break that drought when they host Greenland on Sunday in the opening round of the CSL, while their visitors will be desperate to make up for a frustrating 2013.

Greenland – who completed last season under their former name Shanghai Shenhua – finished eighth, one spot below Shenxin and two points behind, after copping a six-point penalty at the start of the season, having been found guilty of match-fixing in 2003.

The CSL’s third Shanghai team, Shanghai SIPG, finished ninth, one point adrift of Shenhua.

Shenhua were a significant force in China in the late 90s, winning a national title and a Chinese FA Cup, while they won the league again in 2003 before having that championship stripped from them last year as part of the match-fixing investigation.

By contrast, Shenxin have spent most of their history in the lower tiers of Chinese football before promotion to the CSL in 2006.

Having been purchased by Greenland Holding Group Company Limited at the end of January, Shanghai Shenhua became Shanghai Greenland and will compete under their new name for the first time this weekend.

Greenland’s head coach Shen Xiangfu will look to Syrian striker Firas Al Khatib to lead the line again this season after the 30-year-old topped the team’s goal-scoring charts in 2013 with 11.

Shen has also brought in Columbian striker Luis Carlos Ruiz for €3million to bolster Greenland’s frontline with the 27-year-old joining compatriot Giovanni Moreno in Shanghai.

Moreno, an attacking midfielder, scored nine goals for Shen’s team last season.

Shenxin will rely on Brazilian striker Kieza (11 goals in 2013) for inspiration in the final third.

Reigning champions Guangzhou Evergrande will begin their defence of the CSL title on Saturday when promoted Henan Jianye visit the Tianhe Stadium.

Shandong Luneng, who finished second in 2013, will open the season on Friday against another promoted club – Harbin Yiteng – while Beijing Guoan will host Changchun Yatai on Saturday.

In other fixtures, Jiangsu Sainty will welcome Guizhou Renhe, Hangzhou clash with Dalian Aerbin, Shanghai SIPG will travel to Liaoning Whowin and Tianjin Teda face Guangzhou R&F.

Fri 7 March, 2014
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