China hope Korea bounce can push them past Iran

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

CHINA are hop­ing to re­pro­duce the form that gave South Korea pal­pi­ta­tions last week as they take on heavy­weights Iran in another big World Cup qual­i­fy­ing test to­day.

China fought back from 3-0 down to make it 3-2 with 14 min­utes left in Seoul, en­sur­ing a tense fi­nale to a game which South Korea had looked like wrap­ping up with ease.

While China started the fi­nal round of Asian qual­i­fy­ing with a de­feat, they are tak­ing heart from the per­for­mance ahead of to­day’s home game against Iran in Shenyang.

“I don’t think we have much pres­sure,” said Guangzhou Ever­grande mid­fielder Huang Bowen, ac­cord­ing to the Global Times. “I just hope we can play the way we did in the last 15 min­utes against South Korea.”

China are bid­ding to reach only the sec­ond World Cup in their his­tory in a tough Group A, which also in­cludes 2022 hosts Qatar, Uzbekistan and Syria.

“Iran are stronger than us,” said Huang. “But we are play­ing at home, so I hope we can de­liver.”

The top two teams from both of the six-strong Asian groups will earn spots at the 2018 World Cup in Rus­sia, while the third-placed teams go into a play­off se­ries.

Car­los Queiroz’s Iran are Asia’s top-ranked side at 39th in the world, and they started the qual­i­fy­ing round with a 2-0 vic­tory over Qatar in Tehran – al­though both goals came in in­jury time.

“It’s go­ing to be very tough ... We come from dif­fer­ent re­sults in the first games, but the sit­u­a­tion is re­v­ersed now that China will play at home,” Queiroz said, ac­cord­ing to the Global Times.

In Bangkok, Ja­pan des­per­ately need a win after their shock loss to UAE, but it won’t be easy for the four­time Asian cham­pi­ons at a steamy Ra­ja­man­gala Sta­dium.

Out­spo­ken AC Mi­lan for­ward Keisuke Honda read his younger team­mates the riot act after last week’s shock 2-1 de­feat to UAE and an un­counted goal, telling them they need to work harder.

Mean­while the UAE can seize the ini­tia­tive in Group B when they host Aus­tralia seek­ing for their sec­ond big up­set in as many weeks.

Asian cham­pi­ons Aus­tralia were ten­ta­tive in last week’s 2-0 win over Iraq in Perth, and home con­di­tions will suit UAE with free en­try ex­pected at Abu Dhabi’s 42,000-ca­pac­ity Mo­hammed bin Zayed Sta­dium.

Else­where, Syria will play their “home fix­ture against South Korea in Malaysia, which is also host­ing Iraq’s game against Saudi Ara­bia.

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