Ba promises more goals for fans on Shenhua return

Demba Ba says scoring more goals would be his gift for Shanghai Greenland Shenhua fans as the Senegal striker officially made a return to the Chinese Super League side yesterday.

Demba Ba says scoring more goals would be his gift for Shanghai Greenland Shenhua fans as the Senegal striker officially made a return to the Chinese Super League side yesterday.

The club held a press conference for Ba at Pudong’s Kangqiao Training Base yesterday afternoon, which was attended by club president Wu Xiaohui and head coach Wu Jingui. Ba passed the health check after arriving in Shanghai on Tuesday and was given back his No. 9 jersey.

“I am happy to be here. It’s been a long way to make it back. I want to thank the club and the lovely fans who’ve been supporting me even when I was absent.”

Ba joined Shenhua from Turkish side Besiktas in 2015. He was the CSL top scorer before suffering tibia and fibula fracture in his left leg in July 2016. He collided with Shanghai SIPG’s Sun Xiang during a derby. Ba had surgery in Shanghai and re-joined Besiktas on loan last January.

At the beginning of this season, Shenhua ended its contract with Ba in a bid to spare foreign player quota. However, the team suffered a shortage of strikers after Nigerian Obafemi Martins picked up a knee injury in April. Ba, who was playing for Turkish side Goztepe, came back into Shenhua’s sight.

According to Wu Xiaohui, the agreement for Ba’s return was reached in the middle of last month but the news was kept under wraps so as not to affect Ba’s performance while he was playing in the Turkish league.

Wu said having a healthy Ba back was always the club’s wish since his injury two years ago.

“When we ended the contract with Ba, I told him that I sincerely wished he would come back some day. To see a healthy Ba at Hongkou (Football Stadium) would make us even happier than winning the China FA Cup.”

Head coach Wu Jingui said that even before Ba’s arrival, the team was already training bearing in mind his presence and working on how to provide him more support from the midfield. “I can see that Ba has maintained good form. We will now work on strategies and improve our attack from both the center and wings,” said Wu.

Ba’s health check at Putuo District People’s Hospital on Wednesday showed that he had recovered well from the fracture. Doctors suggested that Ba remove the nail in his leg only after retiring.

“The most difficult time was the 24 hours after that injury, as I wondered whether my career would come to an end,” Ba said before joining his first training session. “But the experience will only make me stronger.”

The CSL is currently on a two-month break for the World Cup. Shenhua is 7th in the 16-team standing on 17 points after 11 rounds — six adrift of leaders SIPG and Shandong Luneng.

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