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Zhu Takes It Easy in Amman
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China soccer team head coach Zhu Guanghu believes his side can overcome Palestine in this week's Asian Cup qualifier, despite the absence of two key players, it was reported yesterday.
China can virtually guarantee a spot in next year's finals with a victory in Amman, Jordan, tomorrow but the 2004 runner-up will be without Shao Jiayi and captain Li Weifeng, who are both suspended.

Zhu, under fire from media and fans in China after lackluster performances in previous qualifiers, said his side was better than Palestine, the Beijing News reported.

"Whether it's our overall game or our mental state, we occupy a certain level of superiority. Because of this, if we don't make any mistakes, we can definitely achieve a good result," Zhu told the paper.

Although it struggled to register a 1-0 win and a goalless draw against Singapore, China shares the Group E lead with Iraq on seven points from four matches.

However, Palestine and Singapore are just a victory behind the leader on four. Palestine, which picked up a surprise point with a 2-2 draw against Iraq, lost 0-2 to China in Guangzhou in February.

Despite the absence of Energie Cottbus midfielder Shao, who scored China's only goal in the Singapore qualifiers, and Li, who scored a goal against Palestine in its last clash, Zhu was less concerned about China's lack of firepower than its defense.

"The main thing is to solve our defensive problems and then take opportunities to score goals on the break," the coach said.

(Shanghai Daily October 11, 2006)

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