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China coach Li asks players to 'play as a final' against Japan in FIFA World Cup qualifiers

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-09-07 09:49
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Li Tie, head coach of Chinese national men's football team attends a press conference ahead of the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Japan in Doha, Qatar, Sept 6, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

DOHA - China's national team head coach Li Tie has urged his players to "play as a final" in Team China's campaign against Japan in the final round of the FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers, which will kick off here on Tuesday.

"We are well-prepared for the match against Japan. I hope players can play this match as a final and deliver their best performance. There is no doubt that Japan is the best team in Asia, I hope the whole team could have the courage to challenge this strong opponent," Li said at the pre-match press conference on Monday.

"After several days of adjustment, our players could gradually come out of the shadows of losing the first match here," said Li, whose team was defeated by Australia 3-0 last Thursday. "We exposed some problems in the defensive side last match. We have tried to adjust them during these days' training. I hope we could do better in defense next match."

Li also revealed that all 32 players are ready for the match against Japan as three injured players Guo Tianyu, Wang Qiuming and Li Lei are now nearly "100 percent healthy".

"Although there will be no spectators in the match, I know that all Chinese fans will support the national team. It's an opportunity for us to challenge the Japanese side, we need to show our fighting spirits," he added.

The Japanese side surprisingly lost to Oman 1-0 in its first match of the World Cup qualifiers, and the "Samurai Blue" head coach Hajime Moriyasu said his players were upset but have changed their mindset to the match against China.

"Many of our players traveled from Europe to Japan, and then flew to Qatar. It was a long distance flight. Our main focus is to retain the fitness conditions of players," Moriyasu noted. "We know that China is a strong team, but we prepared well enough to win the match." 

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