Peng Xiaoting, who also played in the K League, put his hope on Chinese soccer.
The Asian Cup, Asia’s biggest festival, is just one match away from the group stage. Some teams have made it to the round of 16, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and Iran, while others have their fate determined by the outcome of the third round.
Korea and Japan, strong contenders for the championship, were hit by an unexpected blow. Japan teamed up with Iraq, Vietnam and Indonesia, and was expected to win the group title with ease. As a matter of fact, Japan, which met Vietnam in the first match, secured a landslide 4-2 victory. However, it suffered a shocking defeat in the second match. In their showdown with Iraq, Japan lost two goals in the first half alone, and was blocked by Iraq’s two-line defense, failing to stage an effective attack. As a result, Japan lost the game 1-2 and this eliminated its chance to become No. 1.
Korea also accepted the embarrassing result. After winning 3-1 against Bahrain in the first leg, Korea met Jordan in the second leg and got off to a good start thanks to Son Heung-min’s penalty kick. However, they faced the threat of defeat, conceding two goals and allowing the upset. Fortunately, Hwang In-beom’s equalizer avoided defeat, but he remained in second place behind Jordan.
Still, the situation is better than that of China. Grouped with Qatar, Tajikistan, and Lebanon, China remained in a draw in both of their group matches. Although they are in second place with two points, their chances of winning are small, as their opponent in Game 3 is Qatar. If China loses in Game 3, and Tajikistan or Lebanon grab three points, China will be pushed to third place and be on the verge of elimination.
Criticism has been raised there. Chinese media Sina Sports said, “Qatar is improving and is the host country. What should we do to win for the Chinese national team? Who can we beat when we can’t beat against Tajikistan and Lebanon? I’m really sad and angry, but I’m afraid that the Chinese national team doesn’t have many players left to beat.”
The match against Qatar will be a showdown of fate. Peng Xiaoting, who played in the K-League including Daegu and Jeonbuk in the past, gave a positive outlook. According to the Chinese media Soohoo Dotcom, Peng said, “In every Asian Cup in history, the Chinese national team has won at least one game. I firmly believe that this time will be no exception.”