Saturday, January 06, 2007

China captain Zheng intends to impress at Charlton

En route to English Premier League relegation-zoners Charlton Athletic last week, China captain Zheng Zhi told Xinhua newsagency he "will let the coaches there know that Chinese players can also play good football. As China's best footballer, I know that I could spend a lot of time on the bench. I am ready to play as a substitute at first, but that will not be enough. I have only one goal there, which is to play more games. I will not let the fans down."

Zheng, who just won his second Chinese Footballer of the Year award, admitted he is "not in good form", but he is sure to regain fitness in London as soon as possible. "After playing the Asian Games with the Chinese team in Doha, Qatar, I have not been training well. But I believe I can find my form very soon," he added.

Zheng joined Charlton Athletic on loan from Chinese Super League and FA Cup champions Shandong Luneng last Friday until the end of the season on a 100,000-pound deal. The deal, which came into effect when the transfer window opened on 1 January also gave the London club an option to make Zheng's move permanent. "I think they were more impressed with my organizing ability when I was given a trial last November," Zheng said. "They have very good strikers but are weak in the midfield. I am sure I can do it well in that place."

Zheng will be the fourth Chinese player to join an English Premier League side after Manchester City's Sun Jihai, former Everton players Li Tie (now playing in Sheffield United) and Li Weifeng and Sheffield United striker Hao Haidong. Dong Fangzhuo, signed by Manchester United in 2003, had been loaned to Antwerp since for failing to get a work permit in Britain. He returned to Old Trafford recently but there is little sign that he can get a first team chance.

In Europe, Dutch first division club PSV Eindhoven wants to secure left-back Xiang Sun on loan for the remainder of the season. "We now want to loan him to see if we can make a full blown PSV player of him," technical manager Stan Valckx told Het Brabants Dagblad. The Shanghai Shensua player had a trial in Eindhoven earlier this season together with his brother Ji Sun, and the Eredivisie champions now want a closer look.

According to Xinhua, Sun Ji and Sun Xiang are two of the leading Chinese football players writing blogs (internet diaries) which are being read by millions of fans and getting listed in the top five in the blog channel at China portal, Sina.com. Their blog, called Ji-Xiang Brothers (using the Chinese characters also meaning lucky and happy), features pictures of their scoring in domestic league matches and international games as well as video clips showing their trial training at PSV has reportedly "seen 960,000 hits." China defender Du Wei's Gentlemen Love Football blog has a "record of 1,800,000 hits"

The blogs provide players with a place to communicate directly with their fans. "Time flies by. Wish a better tomorrow for you and me," former international goalkeeper Liu Yunfei wrote at Never Give Up blog. Liu refused to return to his club Shanghai Shenhua since May last year until the angry club threatened to kick him out. He is waiting for a transfer now.

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