Sports / Soccer

Chance for redemption turned into further humiliation

By Sun Xiaochen in Incheon, South Korea ( Updated: 2014-09-25 22:29

What was expected to be a face-restoring rematch between the Chinese and Thailand Under-23 soccer teams turned into a slap in the face for Chinese soccer fans in a 2-0 blowout at the quarterfinals of the Asian Games on Thursday.

Seeking revenge on its humiliating 5-1 loss to Thailand in an international friendly back in June 2013, the Chinese U-23 squad kicked off its Asiad quarterfinalss against Thailand under hefty expectation from domestic media and top event-governing body leaders at Ansan Wa Stadium in Incheon, South Korea.

Cai Zhenhua, China's vice-sports minister and head of the Chinese Football Association attended the game with a big group of Chinese journalists. Cai was looking forward to the long-anticipated rematch.

However, an early expulsion of Chinese defender Yang Ting for a foul tackle compromised the defensive plan of team China, which conceded two goals in the second half.

Team China head coach, Fu Bo, denied that the 5-1 defeat last year had any negative effect on this Chinese team, which was built for the 2016 Olympic Games. All of the players were born after 1993.

"We didn't feel extra pressure before this game to redeem for the loss last year. We are a much younger team and we expect this tough experience at the Asiad to help our young players to grow," Fu said.

Since 2007, China hasn't been able to beat Thailand at all-level competitions, leaving a disappointing head-to-head record of five ties and three losses.

In response to doubts on China's conservative set-back defense, Fu admitted that Southeast Asian countries, led by Thailand, have made significant progress in building a quick-counterattack soccer style.

"To be honest, this Thailand (team) plays more aggressively than us. Their counterattack is fast and deadly dangerous. So we have to fall back and concentrate on defense," said Fu.

"The fouled-out of Yang really affected our pre-game plan. If we could stay defensive with our full roster on pitch, the game could've gone to the other way."

Senamuang Kiatisuk, coach of Thailand, said the overwhelming victory over China last year boosted his players'confidence.

"After beating China last year, we came to the Asian Games under huge pressure. All the fans in Thailand only want us to win. But our players got kind of motivated from last year's win."

Most Popular
What's Hot