Manager: Intensity necessary for China in 2026 World Cup qualifying tournament

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail CGTN, November 12, 2023
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China will play Thailand on the road on June 16 in their first game in the second round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifying tournament. As the team's manager, Aleksandar Jankovic wants his players to maintain intensity against all opponents.

"First you have to understand the requirements of the competition. So you must observe all the other teams you play against," Jankovic said in an interview with Xinhua News Agency. "And to see which level of intensity is required if we want to make a good result."

"If we set the target to qualify for [the] World Cup, and that is our target we clearly set at the beginning," he added. "We have to know exactly which kind of players can match this intensity and play intense games, not only one game, 90 minutes, without ups and downs, which is very important, but also to repeat the same level of intensity in many games after three days."

Jankovic recruited Zhang Yuning of Beijing Guoan into the national team though he just recovered from an injury and made no more than three appearances, all off the bench, in this Chinese Super League season.

"He is the future of [the] Chinese national team, for sure, as a deep striker," the manager told Xinhua. "We don't have so many players with that profile."

Many players of the Chinese Under-24 national team for the 19th Asian Games were recruited by Jankovic, who doesn't "consider them as young players."

"I will tell you honestly. I don't think they are young," Jankovic said in the interview. "They are 23 or 24 years old, … they are players in a good age for football."

China haven't played Thailand since 2019. Thailand played two friendlies in Europe last month, losing to Georgia 8-0 and tied Estonia 1-1. Jankovic believes that he knows this team well and wants Chinese players to stick to "our values" in the game.

"We will stick to our way of playing and our routines and let the opponent to adapt to ourselves," he said.

China will play their first home game against South Korea in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, on November 21. As one of the best teams in Asia, South Korea recruited many of their players who are with European clubs for the national team.

"That's the big challenge for us. As I always say, we always play to win," Jankovic told Xinhua. "It will be our first home game in qualifiers, big game also. We have to show excellent mentality, we have to match up in mentality, in desire to win, in generosity, fighting all together, and then we can hope that we make a good result. When I talk about a good result, it's always winning."

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