Dalian's Ma completes CSL managers' list

Seven clubs, including last year's top three – Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai SIPG and Tianjin Quanjian – changed their managers ahead of the new CSL season.

With Chinese Super League newcomer Dalian Yifang naming Ma Lin as its new manager on Tuesday, all 16 CSL clubs now have their head coaches in place for the 2018 season, which will kick off on March 2.

Seven clubs, including last year’s top three — Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai SIPG and Tianjin Quanjian — changed their managers ahead of the new season.

Defending champion Guangzhou named Fabio Cannavaro to succeed Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari. SIPG replaced Portuguese Andre Villas-Boas with compatriot Victor Pereira, while Tianjin named another Portuguese Paulo Sousa as its new manager following Italian Cannavaro’s departure.

Chongqing Lifan’s new manager is also from Portugal — Paulo Bento, who replaced South Korean Chang Woe-ryong. Croatian Dragan Talajic took over from Guo Guangqi as head coach of Henan Jianye.

Dalian Yifang and Beijing Renhe are the newly promoted teams to the 2018 CSL. The 55-year-old Ma replaced Spaniard Juan Ramon Lopez Caro to become Dalian’s new manager. Ma used to be a striker for Liaoning FC. He coached Chongqing and Jiangsu Sainty in 2005 and 2006 before joining Liaoning again as manager in 2008, leading the club to the China League One title in 2009.

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Ma Lin was named manager of Chinese Super League newcomer Dalian Yifang on Tuesday

Ma will be one of the four domestic coaches in the 2018 CSL. The other three are Shandong Luneng’s new manager and former China international Li Xiaopeng, Shanghai Greenland Shenhua’s Wu Jingui and Changchun Yatai’s Chen Jingang.

The 2018 CSL has adjusted its regulation over the use of Under-23 players to further encourage teams to give more playing time to their youngsters.

According to the new regulation, each team shall start any match with at least one U23 player, and the total number of U23 players sent for the match should be no fewer than the number of foreign players in the same match. The maximum number of foreigners playing in one match continues to be three.

The adjustment is being considered by some as a kind of discouragement on the use of foreign players, on whom CSL clubs have been depending heavily.

Some clubs, including Evergrande, have already taken action to cope with the adjustment. The Guangzhou club announced the signing of three U22 national team players — Deng Hanwen, Tang Shi and Yang Liyu — over the weekend. However, the new regulations have also sparked worries, including the overpricing of U23 players.

The 2018 CSL will take a 58-day break after Round 11 matches on May 20 to give way for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Round 12 matches will start on July 18. The 30-round league will end on November 11.

Meanwhile, Chinese FA Cup champion Shenhua reached Spain’s Marbella on Tuesday for its winter training. The team’s first match in 2018 will be an AFC Champions League group stage match against J League side Kashima Antlers on February 14.

Shanghai SIPG will hold its winter training in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in the middle of January. Its ACL qualifying match falls on January 30.

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