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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Dalian out to smash poor Chinese record

SINGAPORE, Feb 5 (Reuters) - S-League debutants Dalian Shide are hoping it will be a case of third time lucky for China when Singapore's 2008 soccer league kicks off later this month.

Dalian will be the third Chinese club to chance their arm in Singapore's S.League and replace fellow Chinese club Liaoning Guangyuan, who were ousted from the league after the 2007 season after a series of corruption scandals.

Neither Liaoning nor the first Chinese club to play in Singapore, Sinchi FC, impressed in the city-state, but coach Pei Enjiu says Dalian can be the exception.

'Dalian are a strong team in China. We have won the league eight times,' he said.

'Our S.League team are young, but skilful. There will also be some players from the Dalian first team joining us soon,' he told the Straits Times broadsheet.

Club secretary Aloysius Wee echoed Pei's confidence. 'I think they (the team) are quite confident that they are going to be able to be different in the sense of discipline,' he said.

'They are from a single club, they are playing together, they are carrying the reputation of their club, Dalian, as well as Chinese football on their shoulders.'

Dalian's model in the S.League will be similar to that of Japan's Albirex Niigata who will be embarking on their fifth season in Singapore's professional league. The team will be made up mainly of young upcoming players on the fringes of Dalian's first team supplemented by several experienced players.