A solitary goal from substitute Xu De'en saw last edition's
runners-up China overcome newcomers Australia 1-0 in their opening
Group B match in the AFC Youth Championship at the Salt Lake
stadium in Kolkata, India Monday evening.
A deft 65th minute flick by midfielder Hao Junmin caught the
Australian defense off-guard and an unmarked Xu De'en, having
replaced Huang Bowen in the 52nd minute, was gifted with an easy
Billed as the "Clash of the Titans", the encounter was a tame
affair in the first half as both teams struggled to break out of
China obtained two half chances before the break but defender
Zhao Ming and midfielder Yu Hai failed to capitalize. In the 29th
minute, Yu Hai's attempt on a through ball from striker Wang Yongpo
hit the side netting while Zhao's header on a cross from Hao Junmin
Australia, regulars at the FIFA World Youth Championships,
coordinated well after the break and earned their first corner in
the 53rd minute but in vain.
Aussie forward David Williams once went close but Chinese
goalkeeper Wang Dalei kept watch. In the 62nd minute, he scraped
past defender Liu Jianye but his shot from the right was blocked by
China could have doubled their lead in the 75th minute but Wang
Yongpo's free kick inched wide.
In the 84th minute, David Williams had a golden opportunity as
he raced away from the defence on an ill-time back pass but
goalkeeper Dalei herded the ball to safety.
Australian coach Ange Postecoglou said: "We expected this match
to be tough and the Chinese gave us a tough time. Still, it is not
the end of the road for us. We will have to win both our next
matches to qualify for the next stage."
"The bounce was also uneven on the surface but it is same for
both the teams. My players got a few chances but they failed to
capitalize on them."
Chinese coach Jia Xiuquan expressed happiness at the hard-earned
victory. "My players executed the plan very well. I told them that
the Aussies are good at long balls and to chase the player who has
the ball in order to prevent them from playing highballs."
"I played with four strikers in the second half because I wanted
to get three points from this game but in the later stages I
tightened my defense with five players."
China next face West Asian heavyweights UAE while Australia will
lock horns against powerhouse Thailand on November 1.
(Xinhua News Agency October 31, 2006)