Hosts are like ferocious
predators in the first few days of the ongoing AFC Asian Cup 2007, and with
concern to their apparent underdogs' status, a surprising myth seemed to be
But China suddenly snapped the last joint of the running chain with a nearly
perfect show against Malaysia, the last-appeared co-hosts of the tournament.
Thailand came close to sink Asian Games finalists and Olympic Games
semi-finalists Iraq, claiming a 1-1 draw at the curtain-raiser to blow the horn
for the hosts. Vietnam then made further improvement, defeating Gulf Cup holder
United Arab Emirates 2-0. Indonesia added the degree of the shock after overcame
a quality Bahrain side 2-1.
Under the exteme hotness and moisture of the southeast Asian nations, Asian
powerhouse like Australia seemed to wilt and lose points when they could not
find their habitual rhythm and control. Even defending champions Japan suffered
from a late goal from Qatar to get a draw.
But the weakest one of the four co-hosts just could not continue the miracle,
although their coach Norizan Bakar said that it was their best chance to prove
to the world that Malaysia could perform and compete with Asian top teams. And a
pre-tournament underestimated China team just did well enough to prevent the
invincible miracle of the hosts.
Tall central striker Han Peng and right midfielder Wang Dong took a brace
respectively, and Cottbus playmaker Shao Jiayi added another. Malaysia only
netted an consolation goal by substitute hitman Indra Putra Mahayuddin.
Although the fiasco of Malaysia makes the excellent performance of the other
three hosts' overcast, the power of them could still not be doubted, and we
should wait and see whether the miracle will go on, or fade after their strong
group rivals awaken in time.