A late goal from substitute Wang Yangxin helped China get off
their AFC U-17 Championship title defence to a stuttering start
with a 1-0 win over Syria in the Group D opener at the Bishan
Stadium on Monday.
China encountered stiff opposition from the Syrians and the only
goal of the match in the 89th minute from Wang took a deflection
off Syrian defender Hassan Abdelnasser, an undeserved blow to the
West Asians after a courageous performance.
The Chinese, who also won this title in 1992, started
aggressively with the intention of stamping their authority on the
game but were caught by surprise after encountering stout
resistance from their well-prepared rivals.
Syria aimed to penetrate the Chinese backline and feed striker
Ziad Ajouz, who displayed excellent ball control, inside the box
even as China, coming into this tournament after playing no less
than 24 friendlies, found poor finishing to be their bane.
China coach Zheng Xiong, who vented his frustration from the
sidelines till the goal at the death, said after the match: "It was
our first match and this is always the most difficult one. Syria
defended very well and we managed to score a goal. I am satisfied
with the performance."
"The players became nervous but the three points is what
matters. Bangladesh and Vietnam are strong teams and we should
never underestimate our rivals."
The Syrian coach put it all down to the vagaries of the sport.
"This is football. In spite of playing so well against the
champions we lost. We didn't deserve to lose and were unlucky. Our
plan was to defender and score on the break. I think we were as
good as China."
In the other group match, Vietnam defeated Bangladesh 2-0,
thanks to second half goals from Viet Truong Tran and captain Danh
(the-afc.com September 5, 2006)