By Ni Yinbin | 2012-7-15 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
Long-awaited Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba finally arrived in Shanghai yesterday to begin a new chapter in his glittering career with Shanghai Shenhua. The former Chelsea striker was presented with his team shirt by deputy captain Yu Tao. The 34-year-old, who won the Champions League with Chelsea, is hoping to turn around the team's fortunes in the Chinese Super League, where it lies 12th despite last night's 3-1 win over Beijing Guo'an.
Photo by Dong Jun
IVORY Coast striker Didier Drogba's long-awaited arrival in Shanghai yesterday heralded a dose of local double happiness as his team Shanghai Shenhua grabbed an impressive 3-1 victory over Beijing Guo'an in the Chinese Super League to end a poor run of form.
The 34-year-old player arrived to a hero's welcome at Pudong International Airport as he turns a new chapter in his illustrious career, which reached its zenith with the UEFA Champions League title with Chelsea this past season. Drogba hopes to replicate his success in the CSL with Shenhua.
"I'll do everything with my teammates to help the team," the biggest name in the domestic league told reporters yesterday. "I came here to win not to retire."
But the former Chelsea striker said it may still be some time before he makes his debut in China since he had not been training for three weeks.
"I've gained a little weight," he laughed. "I need to train."
There has been speculation that Drogba's ex-Chelsea teammate Nicolas Anelka will leave Shenhua following his struggles in China. But Drogba was confident the Frenchman will stay.
"About the rumors we can understand after all he came to a new environment with a different language," Drogba said. "Today I read some newspaper saying he's waiting for me to come. Now I've come and I don't think he will leave.
"We played together for four years. I would like to recreate our Chelsea partnership."
Drogba is hoping to change Shenhua's fortunes as it struggles at the bottom of the league and also win the title during his 2-1/2-year contractual stay.
"I never want a competition on my own. But together with Nico, (Giovanni) Moreno and coach (Sergio) Batista we can work hard to make our fans happy," Drogba said. "Maybe it will take time, like it took two trips to the final for Chelsea to win the Champions League."
Hundreds of fans waited outside of Terminal 2 at Pudong airport yesterday morning to welcome their hero, which overwhelmed Drogba.
"I want to say thank you to the fans. They're incredible. I didn't have this when I was in Chelsea," he gushed.
Drogba showed up at Hongkou Football Stadium last night before Shenhua's match against Beijing to salute the more than 21,000 fans and the team did not disappoint him.
Song Boxuan, Cao Yunding and Moises scored in the 20th, 52nd and 75th minute to seal a comfortable victory. Guo'an's Wang Xiaolong scored a penalty in the 81st minute.
Guo'an's Malian striker Frederic Kanoute hit the post with an overhead kick in Shenhua's box in the second half.
"I'm very happy. Besides the result we want, the game was excellent. We controlled it, both offensively and defensively," Shenhua coach Batista said.
Shenhua had not won in four games and last night's win was also the first for Batista since he took over from Anelka.
Drogba visited the team locker room before the game with captain Anelka and deputy captain Yu Tao and encouraged the players, Batista revealed.
"I will have enough time to talk to Drogba tomorrow," the Argentine said. "As we know he's a very good player and will contribute a lot to the team."
Despite the win, Shenhua still languishes in 12th place among 16 teams at the half-way mark.
Elsewhere, it was: Dalian Shide 3, Dalian Aerbin 2; Liaoning Whowin 1, Shaanxi Renhe 1; Shandong Luneng 3, Changchun Yatai 0; Tianjin Teda 0, Qingdao Jonoon 0; and Jiangsu Sainty 2, Hangzhou Greentown 1.
The rest of the games, including the Guangzhou derby between Evergrande and R&F, are scheduled for today.