Shenhua notch up season's first away win
Published : 21 Apr 2012 14:47:59Rss feed
Shanghai Shenhua notched up their first away win of the season with Jean-Florent Ikwange Ibenge -- rather than new player-coach Nicolas Anelka -- the apparent mastermind behind the 1-0 victory over Dalian Shide.
The win -- the second in seven games this season -- eases the pressure on the club, which has struggled badly despite huge investment in playing staff this year, including the stunning signing of Anelka from Chelsea last December.
It also comes amid confusion over who is managing the team, as coach Jean Tigana was absent for a second game in succession, with speculation swirling that he was relieved of his duties over a week ago.
According to Chinese media, Tigana has all but officially resigned and is locked in a legal battle with the club over early termination of his contract.
Ibenge -- his touted replacement -- has not yet officially been named new Shenhua boss, although he was appointed assistant coach last week.
During the match with Dalian -- which saw winger Feng Renliang score a headed goal ten minutes from time -- he was was seen standing in the technical area and "coaching the team in disguise", according to web portal Sina Sports.
Ibenge is a former colleague of Anelka from his playing days in France and was brought to the club last week at his behest, after three of Tigana's coaches were fired by the team's board.
Anelka, who was made "a member of the coaching team" by the club last week, heavily criticised the state of the playing surface in Dalian's Jingzhou stadium at a press conference before Saturday's game.
But despite the poor surface and heavy rain before the match, he was pivotal in the Shenhua victory, taking the lions' share of his side's set pieces and creating several chances with his relatively superior technical ability.
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