Domestic Leagues

Big names star as Chinese Women’s Super League returns

Kunming: The Chinese Women’s Super League’s biggest stars showed their class as the competition made its long-awaited return on Sunday.

Held in a centralised format in Yunnan Province in the nation’s south, all 10 teams were in action as top level women’s football returned to China PR for the first time in 2020, with matches preceded by players and officials observing a silent tribute for victims of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

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Defending champions Jiangsu Suning – who finished runners-up at last year’s AFC Women’s Club Championship – began their campaign with a win, prevailing 3-2 against Hebei China Fortune thanks largely to a terrific strike from Malawian star and 2019 Player of the Season Tabitha Chawinga.

While the Jocelyn Precheur-coached Jiangsu are among the favourites to retain their title, they may have some competition in the form of Shanghai Shengli, who earned a comprehensive 5-0 win over newly promoted Zheijang Hangzhou.

Zambian international Barbra Banda scored on debut, and provided two assists for the Shanghai side, who are aiming to become the first team from the city to win the national title since Shanghai Guotai Jun'an in 2015.

While African stars left their mark on the opening day, so too did some well-known local faces, including Steel Roses striker Wang Shanshan, who converted a crucial penalty to give Wuhan Jiangda a 2-1 win over Henan Jianye.

Elsewhere, Ma Xiaoxu – who won the AFC Women’s Player of the Year Award way back in 2006 – showed she’s still got what it takes to play on the big stage, scoring both goals for Beijing BG Phoenix in their 2-0 success against Guangdong Meizhou Huijun.

In the final match of the round, Argentine Women’s World Cup star Sole Jaimes opened her account for Changchun Zhuoyue, but it wasn’t enough to secure all three points against Shandong, with a late penalty from 2018 AFC Women's Asian Cup Golden Boot winner Li Ying enough to secure a 2-2 draw.

The Chinese Super League will continue in a nine-round regular season until September 18, with the top four clubs to advance to a final stage.

Photos: Chinese Women's Super League, AFP

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