China ease past minnows Guam as World Cup qualifying resumes

Society & Culture

But Team China received bad news on Monday: Its three remaining Group A qualifiers, originally scheduled to be played in Suzhou, have been moved to Dubai.

Naturalized forward Ā Lán 阿兰 (Alan Carvalho, GIF above) and Espanyol forward Wǔ Lěi 武磊 helped themselves to two goals each as China thrashed Guam 7-0 on Sunday in World Cup qualifying.

Playing in front of 30,000 fans in Suzhou, this was a game that China was expected to win easily. But results aside, the main story heading into the match was the return of Wu Lei to the national team after an absence of more than a year.

Fans didn’t have to wait long to see the star forward make an impact, when the 29-year-old opened the floodgates with a tidy penalty in the 20th minute.

Nineteen minutes later, Jīn Jìngdào 金敬道 sliced through Guam’s backline and received a pass from Wú Xī 吴曦, which he easily slide past the Guam goalkeeper.

The halftime scoreline of 2-0 was flattering to Guam, playing with part-timers, which had struggled to touch the ball, escaping their own half just twice in 45 minutes.

In the final quarter of the game, with the score getting out of hand, manager Lǐ Tiě 李铁 gave A Lan his China national team debut. The Brazilian-born forward wasted no time making an impact, turning a square ball from Guo’an forward Zhāng Yùníng 张玉宁 in the 81st minute.

Six minutes later, A Lan was again wheeling away in celebration after a Zhang cross hit its mark.

While China won’t raise any eyebrows with its demolition of Guam — it created 40 chances and dominated 88% of possession — the team can build off this result. It now prepares to take on the Maldives on Thursday, currently ranked 155th, in another game it must win if it hopes to have any chance of catching Syria, currently five points ahead in the group.

Group A standings, via AFC

But on Monday, China got some bad news.

The rest of Group A’s World Cup qualifying games were set to be placed inside a bubble in Suzhou, but the Chinese Football Association (CFA) just announced that the rest of the group games will be moved to Dubai.

This comes after recent COVID outbreaks within the national team camps of Syria and the Maldives.

According to the CFA, both Syria and the Maldives would be forced to go through strict quarantine controls at China’s border, which would rule them out of the next two games.

China has three games remaining: against the Maldives, the Philippines, and Syria.

Crucially, all these games had been scheduled to be home ties. Moreover, Syria, which has been exiled from its country for all the qualifiers, plays its “home” games in Dubai — and is undefeated there.

China and Syria meet in the final group game on June 15. If Syria hasn’t already clinched the group by then, that match could determine who advances to the next — and final — round of World Cup qualifying.

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