BY MICHAEL CHURCH
China captain Feng Xiaoting is confident he and his teammates can put their World Cup qualifying campaign on track when they take on Iran in Shenyang as they aim to bounce back from Thursday’s defeat against South Korea.
China almost rescued a point from their meeting with the Red Devils, fighting back from three goals down to lose 3-2, but the performance has given Feng and his colleagues confidence ahead of their next qualifier for Russia 2018.
“We lost the game but we haven’t lost our faith,” said the Guangzhou Evergrande central defender. “On the contrary, we gained experience and the ability to play in a difficult situation.
“I’m very proud of my teammates. Next Tuesday we will win the game against Iran in Shenyang.”
A win will be vital for the Chinese after their opening loss and Gao Hongbo’s team take on an Iran side that picked up a 2-0 victory over Qatar in Tehran in their first qualifying match, with Reza Ghoochannejhad and Alireza Jahanbaksh both scoring in added time to give Carlos Queiroz’s side a winning start to their campaign.
However, veteran midfielder Zheng Zhi, who scored an own goal on Thursday to give the Koreans the lead, echoed Feng’s thoughts on the feeling within the China squad after the defeat.
“It’s a pity for us that we lost 3-2,” said the former Asian Player of the Year. “It should have been a draw. We didn’t give up when we went three goals behind because we prepared well in advance and this is how football should be. Good preparation gives you confidence.
“The qualifying campaign is long. There are 10 rounds so it is like a league season and we have to prepare different strategies for different opponents.
“But from this game, what we have gained is confidence and faith, and also experience. It is a good start of our long journey.”