China got off a a rip-roaring start in its 2007 Asian Cup campaign by pounding joint-hosts Malaysia 5-1 on their own turf last night.
Despite a less than perfect build up to the games, including a downright miserable defeat to unfancied Thailand, China swept aside their opponents in a manner few Chinese fans would have dared to imagine before the Asian Cup kicked off.
Shandong Luneng striker Han Peng netted a double, midfielder Shao Jiayi, of German Bundesliga side Energie Cottbus, scored with a header, and Changchun Yatai’s Wang Dong scored a brace, taking advantage of some very poor Malaysian defending.
Shanghai Shenhua players Mao Jianqing (who laid on one of the goals with a fantastic cross but missed a sitter himself), Sun Xiang and Li Wei Feng started for China, whilst defender Du Wei was an unused substitute. Manchester United striker Dong Fangzhuo came off the bench in the second half.
Goal.com reported China coach Zhu Guanghu as saying he was satisfied with his team’s spirit and performance, but concerned as to the manner in which they conceded a goal. China now have two tricky group games remaining against regional powerhouse Iran, and central Asians Uzbekistan, before they can even think about getting the final – the same stage they reached as hosts last time in 2004, before a painful loss against arch rivals Japan.
Speaking of which, hotly-tipped Japan, looking to make it three Asian Cups in a row, could only muster a 1-1 draw against Gulf state Qatar in their opening match. Australia, who are competing in the tournament for the first time since moving from the Oceania confederation, are much fancied to win the tournament, especially by themselves. However, it took a last gasp goal against Middle Eastern side Oman to prevent them slipping to a shock defeat in a very humid Bangkok in their first game. The Ozzies say everything is under control though.
China take on Iran on Sunday at 6.20pm, the match will be shown live on CCTV-5.
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