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Soccer: Mixed Fates for National and Olympic Squads
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China made a nice comeback through two sharp headers to beat Kazakhstan 2-1 at an international soccer friendly on Wednesday.

"China started very aggressive in the first ten minutes. But after that we were 50-50. In the second half, several players of the team were really tired and it was hard to make something," commented Kazakhstan coach Pijpers Arno.

Chinese coach Zhu Guanghu responded, saying "we made several tactical changes and played better in the second half. But the bad pitch condition affected both teams. It's difficult to make short pass," said.

China lost center back Xu Yunlong minutes before kickoff to a sudden injury in the warm-up training and brought on Du Wei to fill in the gap.

Kazakhstan took the lead on 16 minutes when Kamelov Dias whipped a corner to the near post where striker Suyumagambetov Murat poked the ball into the empty net comfortably.

The hosts leveled 15 minutes later when burly forward Han Peng headed home an accurate cross from midfielder Du Zhenyu on the left flank.

Kazakhstan took the upper hand in the first half through well-organized attacks thanks to playmaker Baltiev Ruslan's constant threatening passes.

However, opportunist Li Jinyu sealed victory for China at the start of the second half, jumping high at the far post to fire a well-curved ball from Du Zhenyu into the net.

The national team is in full swing ahead for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup in July as it aims to reach the final. They were runners-up after losing 3-1 to Japan during the last Asian Cup on home soil.

In England, a bloody fight overshadowed between the Chinese Olympic football team and England Championship side Queens Park Rangers.

The violence forced the referee to call off the game, with the Chinese lagging 2-1. The game was the second in China's warm-up series in England.

Queens Park Rangers took an easy lead in the first half after the Chinese keeper failed to read a long pass, gifting the Rangers with a drive into the open net.

China rallied to level the score in the second half thanks to a long-range effort shot from Gao Lin, but conceded a second goal to the Queens Park Rangers just minutes later.

A fierce quarrel then broke out between Gao Lin and one of his opponents after colliding with each other in the 75th minute, transforming the field into a boxing ring.

At first the Chinese players tried to rescue Gao Lin, who was surrounded by angry Queens Park Rangers, but the conflict escalated, with even the substitutes running in to join the fray.
A number of Chinese players were injured in the fight, including Chen Tao and goalie Wang Dalei. Zheng Tao was later taken to a local hospital with a jaw injury.

Head coach Ratomir Dujkovic expressed his ire, saying the team is responsible for safe-guarding China's reputation abroad. He slammed his players, saying they need to keep their cool whenever unexpected incidents occur on the pitch.

The Chinese team started touring Europe last month as they train to gain a top four finish at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

However, all their games in England have been tainted by violence. A similar scene occurred when they lost 1-0 to Premiership powerhouse Chelsea on Monday.

China has stepped up its preparation for the Olympics under the helm of Serbian coach Dujkovic, who has announced he wants his team to take a medal at the Beijing Olympics. Dujkovic unexpectedly led African side Ghana to the World Cup in Germany in 2006. 

The U-23 team's final friendly will pit them against English Championship side Brentford on Tuesday.

(Xinhua News Agency and CRI February 8, 2007)

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