Asian Cup: China, Uzbekistan target quarters
Alain Perrin`s China will look to edge closer to a first Asian Cup quarter-final appearance in more than a decade with a win over 2011 semi-finalists Uzbekistan on Wednesday.
Sydney: Alain Perrin`s China will look to edge closer to a first Asian Cup quarter-final appearance in more than a decade with a win over 2011 semi-finalists Uzbekistan on Wednesday.
China upset Saudi Arabia 1-0 in their Group B opening match on Saturday, while the Uzbeks also collected three points, defeating North Korea by the same scoreline.
It was 2004 when China, as hosts, were last in the knock-out stages, and they are fully aware of the threat of Uzbekistan, having never beaten them in three previous Asian Cup meetings.
"We haven`t qualified for the knock-out stage for 10 years but now we have a very good chance after winning our first match," said defender Zhang Linpeng.
China and Uzbekistan kick off in Brisbane at 07:00 pm (0900 GMT).
Three-time winners Saudi Arabia know they must at least avoid defeat against North Korea after their upset loss against the Chinese to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the last eight.
The Saudis were dealt a blow just before the start of the tournament when controversial striker Nassir Al Shamrani was ruled out of the tournament with an abdominal injury.
His absence was painfully obvious as the Saudis lacked firepower against China and coach Cosmin Olaroiu said he would be making changes to his starting line-up for the crunch 06:00 pm (0700 GMT) clash in Melbourne.
"We know what we need to do exactly, we have only one way and it is very important to win the game," he said. "With the changes we are going to make, we are going to make sure we try to get more power and score more goals."
North Korea coach Jo Tong-Sop is hoping his Swiss-based pair Pak Kwang-Ryong and Cha Jong-Hyok can help his team overcome the odds and reach the last eight.
"I rely a lot on them and expect them to step up in the next games," he told reporters on Tuesday.