ZIMBABWE international striker Nyasha Mushekwi could realise his dream of rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s greatest footballers, including Brazilians — Hulk, Oscar and Ramires — as early as Sunday, when his Chinese club are set to secure their place in the country’s Super League. The former CAPS United forward and his Dalian Yifang teammates will host relegation-threatened Dalian Transcendence at 9.30am Zimbabwe time needing a win to confirm their place in the Chinese Super League.
It’s one of three matches from which Mushekwi’s side need just three points to be absolutely sure of a place in the top-flight, although even an incredible run of results, in which they will lose all their final matches, might not see them fail to make the top-flight grade.
Dalian Yifang all but secured a place in the Chinese top-flight league two weeks ago when they thrashed Shanghai Shenxin 4-2 away from home to take their points tally to 58 from 27 games in the 16-team second tier-league. They have 58 points, one shy of leaders Beijing Renhe, but nine points clear of third-placed side Qingdao Huanghai, who have 49 points from the same number of matches.
Fourth-placed side Shijiazhuang Ever Bright also have 49 points, from the same number of matches and the two teams can only end up with 58 points, the points which Mushekwi’s side already have in their kit, should they win their remaining three matches. The problem with Qingdao Huanghai is that even if they win all their remaining three matches and Mushekwi’s side lose all their last three games and the two clubs finish with the same number of points (58), they cannot overtake Dalian Yifang in the final classification.
This is because the Chinese authorities use head-to-head analysis when two teams finish with the same number of points and Mushekwi’s Dalian Yifang beat their rivals 2-1 in their first meeting on April 9 this year, with the Zimbabwean striker on target in that match. The two sides then drew 1-1 on July 22, with Mushekwi once again scoring for his team and the win and draw will give them a better head-to-head record in the unlikely event they finish with the same number of points.
Shijiazhuang Ever Bright, in fourth place, can also finish on 58 points, should they win all their remaining three matches and Mushekwi’s table toppers lose all their last three and their head-to-head record is identical after the first game ended 2-2 on April 30, with Mushekwi scoring twice in that game. The second game also ended 2-2 on August 30, with Mushekwi scoring one of his team’s two goals.
“However, Mushekwi’s team has a far better goal difference (+24) compared to (+13) for Ever Bright. Their opponents on Sunday, Dalian Transcendence, are battling relegation as they are just five points clear of the drop zone. They have lost three and drawn two of their last five matches. The other remaining assignments for Mushekwi’s team are against the team in bottom place, Yunnan Lijang and the team second from bottom Baoding Yingli Yitong.