Yakubu: CSL on the rise
Nigeria and Guangzhou R&F striker Yakubu has spoken of the increasing level of quality in the Chinese Super League, crediting the influence of manager Sven Goran Eriksson.
Yakubu, 31, joined Chinese Super League side Guangzhou R&F in June 2012 following a nine year career in England with clubs including Everton and Leicester City. The Nigerian international was one of a number of high-profile names, including Chelsea pair Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, to make the move to China, scoring 15 goals in 29 games this season.
With his move drawing significant criticism towards his motives, namely the steep rise in wages, the player dismissed such claims.
Now set to complete his second season in the league, the former Portsmouth and Middlesbrough striker has spoken of the continued rise in quality of the CSL.
"The Chinese Super League is getting harder every season," Yakubu told wildeastfootball.net. "This season is definitely more difficult than the last one. The CSL has more good players and the league as a whole is improving, the league keeps getting better every season.
"Guangzhou Evergrande are one of the best teams in the Chinese League but our main focus is to finish in the top three of the CSL and qualify for the Asian Champions League, that’s our main target for the next season."
As well as enticing a number of elite players to the league, the CSL has also been able to attract some of the game's top managers. With World Cup winner Marcelo Lippi managing Guangzhou Evergrande, Yakubu has commended the influence of his own coach, Sven Goran Eriksson, for raising the quality of training at R&F.
"Sven brings confidence to the team and he brings a European standard of coaching," the 31-year-old said. "We are training like we are in England and the clubs training is much better than before, the team loves the training sessions with him."
Also asked which Chinese players have impressed him this season, the striker replied: "At Guangzhou R&F, the young number 20 Tang Miao would fit in really well in Europe."