Bundesliga side Cottbus' playermaker Shao Jiayi converted a
last-gasp penalty to give China a somewhat embarrassing 1-0 victory
over Singapore in an Asian Cup qualifier in Tianjin on
Chinese coach Zhu Guanghu may find it hard to hold onto his job
as China appeared rusty throughout the game against a steady
Singapore side. And it wasn't until the last minute that victory
was clinched with Shao's spot kick.
Zhu was under big pressure before the match as the team had lost
to Iraq 2-1 in the previous game. In fact he did say he'd leave the
job if his team were defeated by Singapore.
The hosts dominated the first half and launched waves of attacks
to claim territorial superiority. But Singapore's defense remained
solid and China only produced any threat through set-pieces. Shao
bent a free kick in the first minute but Singapore's goalkeeper
Lionel Lewis denied his effort with a save at
The in-form keeper stopped Xu Liang's goal-bound long range
thunderbolt at the end of the first half pushing the ball round the
post. Singapore posed problems for China with their counter attacks
but to little effect.
Substitute midfielder Zhao Xuri received his marching orders for
a deliberate foul in 64 minutes just 13 minutes after he was
brought on to replace Tao Wei. China slowed the pace down with 10
men giving the opponents more space and they gradually lost their
dominance. Singapore went close in the 67th minute with a low free
kick which was well saved by Li Leilei.
Hitman Li Jinyu wasted a good chance when his well executed half
volley inside the box went wide. Shao hit the post four minutes
before the end with a fine curving free kick.
"With 10 men on the pitch we really felt big pressure and I've
told my players that they should control themselves during the
game," said Zhu. "The players made big efforts and created a lot of
chances but didn't make good use of them.
"My contract with the Chinese Football Association expires in
November and my task is to lead China through to the Asian Cup
finals," added Zhu.
"This was a tough game and both teams played hard," observed
Singapore coach Radojko Avramovis. "China controlled most of the
game but they should not end the battle in this way. I am not angry
with the penalty but I'm not satisfied because two of my players
gave China's left winger too much space to make his run."
Zhu took over the Chinese national team from Dutchman Arie Haan
in February, 2005 after China were stopped by Kuwait from earning a
place at the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany. This happened in the
preliminary round of the qualifiers.
According to the latest FIFA world rankings China's standing has
dropped from 89 in the world in July to 103 in August--the first
time the country has dropped out of the top 100. China's highest
position was 37 in December 1998.
(Xinhua News Agency August 17, 2006)