Striker Wu Lei upbeat ahead of Australia clash

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Wu Lei of China shoots during the group A match between China and Syria of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, Nov. 14, 2019. (Xinhua/Pan Yulong)

China's ace forward Wu Lei suggested that any team cannot afford to disregard China, a confident side on the back of four straight wins, in the final round of Asia World Cup qualifiers.

China made it into the third and final round after a 3-1 victory over Syria, their fourth win in a row, in June to be one of the four best group second-placed finishers in the Asia World Cup qualification tournament.

They will meet Australia in their first fixture of the final round on Thursday -- a game where the odds are stacked against them.

But according to Wu, China can make life hard for Australia as they have mustered enough confidence from their latest run of consecutive wins to face stronger opposition.

"Obviously, our performance in the second round of World Cup qualifiers, especially in the last game against Syria, instilled strong confidence for us," the Espanyol striker said.

He said there will be no pushovers in the final round of competition.

"We can say that there exists no considerable gap between the 12 teams of the final round," he said.

"So long as we have confidence in ourselves, it will be very hard for any team, however strong they may be, to beat us," he added.

China has been drawn against Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Oman in the final round of the Asian Zone qualifying tournament.

The 12 teams in the final round have been drawn into two groups, playing in a home-and-away round-robin format. The top two of each group will qualify for the World Cup finals in Qatar, and the two third finishers will play a home-and-away playoff, the winner of which enters a continental playoff. 

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