China expect fan-inspired game

By Lu Wen’ao in Shenyang Source:Global Times Published: 2016/9/5 23:33:39

Queiroz names Team Dragon as qualifying favorites

Chinese national soccer team players take part in a training session on Monday in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province. Photo: CFP

The head coaches of China and Iran both kept a low profile as they prepared for Tuesday's World Cup Asian qualifier in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province.

Speaking of his target for Tuesday's match, China coach Gao Hongbo remained cagey, deflecting questions by saying that winning matches is the priority for every coach.

"Winning every match is always the top priority for a coach," Gao told the pre-match news conference on Monday. "But we also need to do what needs to be done on the pitch."

Captain Feng Xiaoting said the team's defeat by South ­Korea in Seoul last week has helped the team gain a better grasp of the pace of the World Cup qualifiers.

"I think we've had a better understanding of what is going to be the pace of the qualifiers, as well as the toughness of those matches," said the Guangzhou Evergrande defender. "Tomorrow we will do our best in front of our excellent fans."

Gao echoed Feng's tone, saying he hopes the fans can inspire the players again on Tuesday.

"The upbeat fans cheered the players up from the upset in the South Korea game. I hope tomorrow they can continue their huge support for the team," Gao said.

The Chinese team have won accolades for fighting back with two goals from three goals down in the Korean game.

Pressure has mounted on Chinese domestic star forward Wu Lei, as the Shanghai SIPG player is still in drought of scoring, but Gao said he is confident that Wu can work through it due to his experience with tough battles in the past.

During Gao's previous stint with the national team, ­China suffered a 2-0 defeat in a friendly against Iran in 2010.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz played a low-profile role on Monday, saying China are the favorites of the six-team group for the World Cup qualification based on the "huge investment in football" as well as "their quality players."

Queiroz singled out Wu, Yu Hai and Zheng Zhi as those who could pose a major threat to Iran, but he also stressed that his squad "playing good football" is the most important thing.

"We studied China's games. China are quick in transition of defense and attack," the Portuguese said. "It's going to be a very difficult game … I hope we can be the best team on the pitch, if we can do it, we have a good chance."

Iran midfielder Masoud Shojaei said he is confident in his team's form, noting they are "100 percent ready."

Defender Morteza Pouraliganji also emphasized that the team that keeps their concentration on the pitch will take Tuesday's match for their side.

"It's not an easy task - nobody wants to lose points," said Pouraliganji, who played for Chinese Super League side Tianjin Teda in 2015. "[The] team with more concentration and commitment will make it tomorrow."

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