Farce! Top-tier Chinese team fields three goalkeepers

Shanghai (AFP) –


Beijing Renhe ended Wednesday's 5-0 thrashing at Guangzhou Evergrande with three goalkeepers on the pitch in farcical scenes in the Chinese FA Cup fifth round.

The Chinese Super League (CSL) club were accused of effectively throwing the game at Fabio Cannavaro's Evergrande and are likely to be punished by the Chinese Football Association.

Chinese football fans and media speculated whether Renhe had made football history.

Renhe, who are in the relegation places with just over a third of the CSL season gone, named only three substitutes instead of the seven they could have had.

Of those, two were goalkeepers.

Renhe, who are coached by the Serbian Aleksandar Stanojevic, started the match with stand-in stopper Mou Pengfei in goal.

On 43 minutes, with the visitors losing 1-0, they brought on a second goalkeeper, Liu Peng.

But rather than going in goal, Liu came on as an outfield player in place of injured striker Sun Weizhe.

Cannavaro's side went 2-0 ahead two minutes later.

With less than 10 minutes left in the game and Renhe losing 5-0, they sent on a third goalkeeper as Li Chen came on, also as an outfield player.

Chinese media reacted with fury and accused Renhe of failing to even try and win the game.

"Pitiful Chinese football," said Sina Sports, calling it "a farce".

Fielding a team of mainly under-23 players and naming only three substitutes -- two of them goalkeepers -- was "the equivalent of giving up the game in advance", said Sina.

PP Sports called it "a historic moment".

"There are three goalkeepers on the field and only one can use his hands," it said.

"The remaining two are up front."

By coincidence, Evergrande also sent on a substitute goalkeeper, at half-time, but it was a like-for-like swap.

Titan Sports called the sight of five goalkeepers in one match "a wonderful scene".

But many Renhe fans were furious, with one writing on the Twitter-like Weibo: "Have you no shame? Three goalkeepers! What a joke!"

Others however said that the club had been wise to prioritise their relegation fight over the FA Cup by playing a weakened side.

"Why can't a goalkeeper play as a striker?" asked one.