China reach last eight after scoreless stalemate
Updated: 2011-08-17 11:33
By Wang Qingyun and Yan Weijue (chinadaily.com.cn)
China's Yang Yang (top) heads the ball towards the goal in the team's group match against South Korea during the 26th Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, Aug 16, 2011. The clash ended 0-0. [Provided to China Daily]
* China's young men finally make the knockouts after a lucky draw with arch-rival South Korea in Shenzhen's hot weather, Wang Qingyun and Yan Weijue reports from the Shenzhen Stadium
China will face the strong Japanese team in the knockout stage of the Universiade men's football competition after tying with South Korea Tuesday night.
In the ninth minute, China gained a corner kick on the left. Forward Li Xun juked through four South Korean players into the penalty area and thrust the ball, but was blocked by Korean goalie Kim Kyeong-min. Defender and captain Lu Bin soon went up for a half volley, but the ball bounced back on the Korean goalie.
South Korea's waves of offense came on the last minutes of the first half. In the 43rd minute, Korea's Cho Ho-yeon made a long shot through a cluster of Chinese players. Chinese goalie Liu Tianxin saved the shot and clutched the ball to his chest.
In the 44th minute, Korean midfielder Park Jeong-min took a pass from midfielder Kim Shin-chul in the center, and drove the ball into the penalty area, before Chinese goalie Liu ran up and foiled the shot.
China's goalie Liu Tianxin (green) saves a goal in the team's group match against South Korea during the 26th Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, Aug 16, 2011. [Photo/CFP]
In the last minute, China's forward Guo Yuantong fell in Korea's penalty area while trying to break through, but the referee didn't award the host team a penalty kick.
The second half witnessed slower offense and more short passes in the backfield, seemingly a result from both decreasing stamina and a strategy to keep the tie to the end of the game.
Before the game, South Korea was top-ranked in the group that included China, Namibia and Colombia, winning six points over Namibia and Colombia. China followed with four points after tying with Namibia and beating Colombia.
The host's draw with arch-rival South Korea will further ensure both teams a place in the knockout stages. On the other hand, if China won the game, Korea would have surrendered its first place in the group, facing the top-ranked Japan in Group D, while a Korean win over China would keep the host in second place at best.
In the 50th minute, China's midfielder Fan Zhiqiang attempted a pass on the right, but was intercepted by Korean Goalie Kim Kyeong-min.
Both sides had several free kicks and a few forward substitutes, but neither made any forceful shot into the net.
Chinese football coach Jin Zhiyang said he was pleased with the result. "It was not a great game but both teams achieved their goals in the end. And we are satisfied with the outcome," he said at a news conference after the game.
Chinese captain Lu Bin said the team was reserving energy for matches in the knockout round in response to China Daily Website's question concerning the team's defensive strategy.
"We (Chinese team) were stagnant on the offensive end in the final minutes. We'll face the Japanese team in the quarterfinals, so we want to save our energy for the next match."
The Japanese football team, promising champion contenders, topped Group D after defeating the British team earlier the same day. In Jin's eyes, the Chinese footballers will compete as the underdog, although they have achieved their goal of reaching the top eight.
"We will make full preparations for the game against Japan. I have only one word for the match. Fight. We will leave walking tall even if we lose it. "
Fans cheer for the Chinese team in China's men's group match against South Korea during the 26th Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, Aug 16, 2011. [Photo/CFP]