Football Sport

China on the rise

Written by Ben Blaschke

They showed plenty of grit in their opening game win over Saudi Arabia but having made it two from two at the Asian Cup against Uzbekistan on Wednesday it seems the sky is the limit for China.

The tournament surprise packets head into Sunday’s final group game against last-placed North Korea with a quarter-final spot already guaranteed but need only a draw to go one better and seal top spot in their group.

It’s a dramatic turnaround for a side that has failed to make an impact in their past two Asian Cup appearances in 2007 and 2011, but could this be the moment China finally makes its presence felt on the global football stage?

There has been plenty of talk about the next generation of exciting young Chinese players emerging onto the scene but the fact they’re living up to that potential under the pressure cooker of international competition is a great sign for Team Dragon.

Particularly impressive was the manner in which they rebounded against Uzbekistan after falling behind early against the run of play. Rather than fall apart as they might have in the past, China dug deep to equalize before one of the goals of the tournament from substitute Sun Ke gave them one of their biggest ever wins.

No doubt the eyes of the nation will be on them again on Sunday and with a quarter-final date against either South Korea or hosts Australia awaiting they have a wonderful opportunity to create Asian Cup history.