Ba prom­ises more goals for fans on Shen­hua re­turn

Shanghai Daily - - SPORTS - Ma Yue SOC­CER

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 twom­onth 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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