Shenhua into CFA Cup last 16 as Qin marks return

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Shanghai Greenland Shenhua eased past Chinese League One side Lijiang Feihu 3-0 in a 2017 CFA Cup match last night, thanks to goals from Fredy Guarin, Obafemi Martins and Mao Jianqing. Troubled midfielder Qin Sheng made a return to the pitch seven weeks after his infamous stamping incident.

Qin was sent on as a substitute for Martins in the 73rd minute of the match held in Lijiang, Yunnan Province. After deliberately stamping on Tianjin Quanjian's Alex Witsel in their Chinese Super League match on March 11, Qin was given a six-month ban from CSL matches by the Chinese Football Association, but was still allowed to play in CFA Cup matches.

"I think a lot of people would agree with me that Qin is an important player for the team," Shenhua's Uruguayan head coach Gus Poyet said at the post-match press conference. "I hope these people can join up to back him."

Qin has been asked by the CFA to attend a hearing in Beijing on May 10 over his appeal against the six-month ban — the heaviest punishment the CFA has ever issued to a player.

Facing a second-tier team, Shenhua took a 2-0 lead half an hour into kickoff with Guarin and Martins finding the back of the net. Mao added another in the 88th to ensure Shenhua a spot in the last 16 of the CFA Cup. The team will fly to southern Guangzhou City directly from Lijiang today for their CSL match on Friday.

Another Shanghai team SIPG will take on another League One side Shijiazhuang Ever Bright in Hebei Province in the CFA Cup this evening.

SIPG head coach Andre Villas-Boas revealed that veteran Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho might finally make his debut for the team. "We want to give a chance to Carvalho," Villas-Boas said yesterday. "Unfortunately the (foreign player) rules have changed, and a player who was on the first-team at Chelsea, Real Madrid and Monaco has not played any game so far for us, so Chinese football hasn't seen one of the greatest defenders in football yet. We believe that tomorrow is the right game for him. He will be back and show his quality and leadership. We will see some rotation."

Fighting on three fronts ­— CSL, CFA Cup and AFC Champions League — SIPG has eight matches scheduled this month.

Meanwhile, four SIPG players — Shi Ke, He Guan, Fu Huan and Wei Shihao — have been named in the Chinese national reserve team announced lately. The 22-member squad will gather in Tianjin for training from May 15 to 17 under the guidance of Marcello Lippi. Most of the players are aged between 22 to 25.

According to the CFA, the idea of building a reserve team was raised by Lippi himself, who wanted to train some back-up players for the national team with a similar playing style.

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