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China head coach Li urges team to 'prove themselves' in WC qualifier against Saudi Arabia

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-10-12 10:08
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China's head coach Li Tie (R) and Wu Xi react during a press conference before the Group B match against Saudi Arabia of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qulifier in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Oct 11, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- China's national team head coach Li Tie has urged his players to prove themselves in Tuesday's FIFA World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia here.

The Chinese coach spoke highly of the Saudi side, which claimed three consecutive wins in the final round of the World Cup Asian qualifying tournament. "Saudi Arabia is a very strong team, and it's a good chance for us to prove ourselves. I hope my players can fight relentlessly on the pitch," Li said at the pre-match conference on Monday.

Li and his players arrived in Jeddah last Saturday after a dramatic 3-2 victory over Vietnam. "In last two or three days, we gave our players enough time to rest and recover, and we also did some targeted training for the match. Our preparations for Saudi Arabia started even before the match against Vietnam. Now all the players except for Li Lei and Hao Junming are ready to play tomorrow's match," Li noted.

Since China has played its first three qualifiers in a neutral stadium behind closed doors due to the epidemic control policy, Tuesday's match will be the first time in two years for the Chinese internationals to play an away game in front of tens of thousands of spectators.

"Saudi Arabia has great home advantage and support from fans. It's completely different to play with or without fans. We have not played a game like that for a long time, I believe all the players will be very excited," Li noted, saying that he hopes his side could also play their FIFA World Cup qualifiers at home from November.

The Saudi team head coach Herve Renard, who is eyeing its fourth successive victory, said his team will be concentrated on the important match. "We had good results in the first three matches, but every game is different. You never know what will happen in the football world, we have to show our determination on the pitch and manage the game well. We are always motivated to win."

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