HONG KONG - China completed their Asian Cup warm-up with an uninspiring 1-0
win over Australian champions Melbourne Victory in bizarre conditions on
Despite objections from Victory, the match was played in three periods of 30
minutes with free entrance for fans, although only a few hundred turned up.
China's Zheng Zhi reacts during a friendly match between
Andalucia-China at the Ramon de Carranza stadium in Cadiz, 2005. China
completed their Asian Cup warm-up with an uninspiring 1-0 win over
Australian champions Melbourne Victory in bizarre
"The rules change every five minutes. They want to make sure it's an
exhibition match," said Victory chairman Geoff Lord before the game.
"It's changed four times since we've been here."
After a tepid start substitute Wang Dong opened the scoring in the second
period, heading in a corner from the highly rated Zheng Zhi.
The former Charlton Athletic man was China's most dangerous player,
registering the first shot on target -- a free-kick from distance after 24
minutes -- and tormenting the Victory defence with a run and shot.
Victory goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos was also tested by a Zheng shot on 46
minutes while Wang came close with an audacious effort from the halfway line
towards the end.
Victory midfielder Matthew Theodore almost shocked China 10 minutes into the
last period with a ferocious shot that pole-axed defender Cao Yang.
No reason was given for the unusual rules although there was speculation
China coach Zhu Guanghu, who has been threatened with the sack, was unwilling to
risk losing a full match just days before the Asian Cup.
"This is preparation for the Asian Cup -- it's just training," said Zhu.
"We're preparing step by step to get ready for the Asian Cup. We're on
But the unconvincing result is unlikely to alleviate pressure on Zhu, who has
been told by officials to reach the semi-finals "or else."
The match completes an unorthodox preparation for China, who fielded players
from Hong Kong in Sunday's Reunification Cup victory over an ageing FIFA World
China reached the final of the last regional showpiece but have failed to
build on their success, dropping nearly 30 places in the FIFA rankings and
failing to reach last year's World Cup.
They open their campaign against co-hosts Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur on July