Chinese Super League debutants Hebei China Fortune got off to a good start as they came from behind to beat Guangzhou R&F 2-1 in the opener of the highly-anticipated 2016 season here on Friday.
Hebei’s Ersan Gulum had the most dramatic moments as the newly-signed defender first netted an own goal in the 11th minute, then headed in an equalizer in the 28th minute, before Gervinho from Cote d’Ivoire sealed three points for the visitors in the 39th minute.
“We don’t deserve to lose the game, but it’s football,” said Guangzhou R&F’s head coach Dragan Stojkovic after the match.
Guangzhou R&F which survived the relegation battle last season, had a dream start when Turkish Gulum deflected Lu Lin’s free kick into his own net. Gulum then made amends by heading in a pass off Jiang Ning.
Gervinho, who joined in Hebei during the winter transfer window for 18 million euros, proved his world-class caliber as he used to play for Roma and Arsenal, beating Guangzhou R&F’s goalkeeper Cheng Yuelei and defender Jang Hyun-soo to slot the winner into an empty net.
Hebei coach Li Tie, the former assistant coach of Guangzhou Evergrande, thus had his first victory in the CSL as a head coach, saying “it’s nice to take the first win. We are not a real strong squad, but the freshman, and we should fight for a better performance.”
The opening ceremony of the new season will be held on March 5 in Nanjing before the match between Jiangsu Suning and Shandong Luneng.
The CSL had spent world-beating money in chasing for big name footballers in the winter transfer, splashing out close to 300 million US dollars, while the opinion varies whether it can raise the standard of Chinese soccer.
It might be more entertaining to watch Chinese women’s soccer games than the men’s. The Chinese women’s team beat Japan 2-1 Friday and came one step closer to the Rio Games.
The men’s team ranks 96th in the world currently.