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Former Chinese striker worried about China's tactical options in WC qualifiers

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-09-03 21:48
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Former Chinese striker Li Yi [Photo/IC]

BEIJING - Former Chinese striker Li Yi showed his worry about China's tactical options in their FIFA World Cup Asian Zone final stage qualifiers after a 3-0 loss to Australia in Doha on Thursday.

China tried to defend high up the field from the start of the Australia match, but after 20 minutes, they conceded three goals without managing a single shot on target throughout the tie.

China head coach Li Tie admitted that his players were simply outpaced by the Australian side who played "European football."

Li Tie's former national teammate Li Yi said that China could face the similar plight next Tuesday in their second match against Japan, who also has some Europe-based players.

China have been drawn into Group B of the final stage qualifiers with Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Vietnam. In a home-and-away round-robin format, the top two finishers will qualify for Qatar 2022 directly and the third-place team will play a home-and-away playoff with its counterpart in Group A.

In their first round duels on Thursday, Australia beat China 3-0, Saudi Arabia rallied to beat Vietnam 3-1, and Oman stunned Japan 1-0.

"What worries me most is how the Chinese team should play the next game against another Asian powerhouse Japan," said the 42-year-old former striker.

"We can see that their tactical approach is to defend high up the field and try to win the ball back by pressing the opposition. But it did not work well in the match against Australia," he said.

"I believe that the Chinese coaching staff will think about whether they should stick to the same approach or change for another for the Japan game," he added.

Capped 30 times for China, Li Yi played for Beijing Guoan, Shenzhen, and Shaanxi before his retirement in 2011. He won the Golden Boot award in the last edition of the Chinese Football League A in 2003, before helping Shenzhen win the inaugural Chinese Super League title in 2004.

After hanging up his boots, Li worked as assistant to Philippe Troussier at Shenzhen, before replacing the Frenchman as head coach of the club from 2013 to 2015.

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