Sports / Soccer

Team China shakes off pressure to focus on quarters' stage

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-01-18 06:38

CANBERRA - Coach Alain Perrin said that Team China has shaken off pressure in preparing to face DPR Korea in Canberra on Sunday as the Asian Cup Group B leaders.

Although China has locked the top place in the group last Wednesday with two straight wins for their best start to the tournament in 27 years, Perrin acknowledged that China was not the Cup favorites.

"I think our team is not the best at this tournament," the Frenchman said at the press conference prior to their 3rd and last group match in the Asian Cup.

"Before we came here, somebody asked me what my target was. I told him my target was to win the first match. So for me, the most important thing is to focus on the next match," Perrin added.

China has topped the group after two matches, something not achieved even by stronger sides such as South Korea, Australia or holders Japan.

On Thursday, China will face the host in their quarterfinal in Brisbane.

Perrin said he may rest several key players on Sunday, but was in no mood not to fight for the third straight win in the tournament.

"In the past, our players have been under too much pressure," said Chinese striker Gao Lin, "But, for this tournament, because we are a very young team, we have no fear and we've done well. We just want to perform and prove ourselves."

China finished as runners-up twice in the Asian Cup and last reached the knock-out stages when they hosted the event in 2004.

On his part, DPR Korean coach Jo Tong-Sop said that they hope to win back some pride from the match against China, although they had already been eliminated from the group stage.

"For the next match there will be a slight change in formation and the team selection to get the best possible result in this tournament," Jo said.

"I don't want to blame the players. My leadership, my instructions, my plans and projects were not good enough. Training and playing tactics for the matches were not perfect; I think that was the reason for the losses."

"After this tournament, when we get back to our homes, we will analyse the matches and what was lacking and what has to be covered, everything, and we will find out the way to improve," Jo said.

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