China's Team Dragon, which is trying to overcome its own struggles, plays a crucial showdown with the Philippine Azkals in their second game in Group C of the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup 2019.
After hurdling Kyrgyzstan, 2-1, in its opening encounter, Team Dragon is expected to play a cautious game against the Azkals, who took a 0-1 setback from South Korea last Monday.
Game time is set at 5:30 p.m. (9:30 p.m. in Manila) at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Team captain Zheng Zhi said they are preparing hard for the game, an encounter which will put China nearer the knockout stages.
Against Kyrgyzstan, the Chinese started well but were limited to long-range shots.
Three minutes before the first half ended, Kyrgyzstan took the lead with a well-placed goal.
China, ranked no.76th in the world, equalized five minutes later at the start of the second half off a goalkeeping blunder, before scoring again 12 minutes before the game ended.
“Our team needs to walk, step by step, to our next target,” said Zheng.
After an impressive showing against Korea, the Philippines, ranked 116th in the world, three notches higher than Kyrgyzstan, will try to do better against Team Dragon and hope to stay alive until the next stage as well.
“I want to see that we dominate and keep the ball better against China,” said Azkals’ coach Sven Goran-Eriksson, who indicated they were able to create good chances against Korea Republic despite their setback.
“And I’m sure we can do that against China as well, but we must keep the ball a little more. Good for the heart of the coach, too,” added Eriksson.
“Even after we lost, the confidence went up. I spoke briefly with the players in the dressing room and the mood is good even though we lost the game. They know they did a good job,” said Eriksson.
Korea will meet Kyrgyzstan in another encounter at the Al-Maktoum Stadium in Dubai.
China, which is on its 11th Asian Cup appearance, will be banking on forward Gao Lin, who has 21 goals and over 100 caps for his country.
Meanwhile, Qatar weathered a storm to beat Lebanon, 2-0, in Group E at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain on Wednesday.
Qatar found the breakthrough in the 65th minute through a brilliantly struck free kick by defender Bassam Al-Rawi.
Then, striker Almoez Ali scored in the 79th minute to give Qatar ts first triumph in their bracket.
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