Not much known about KyrgyzstanThere isn't too much known about Kyrgyzstan but what we do know about every side that comes from central Asia is that they're very competitive. Kyrgyzstan is one of the fast-improving sides from this region of Asia, where usually the dominant force for so long had been Uzbekistan.
I heard recently on the quality Asian Game podcast that the president of the Kyrgyzstan FA isn't some old fart in it for recognition or skimming his own cash from whatever is generated, but he is passionate about Kyrgyz football and wants to push them forward and make them a stronger force to reckon with in the game. We are already slowly seeing the fruits of his labour now as Kyrgyzstan aren't crushed like the whipping boys' people expect them to be.
China won't find it easy regardless how much money they've spent on Lippi and how much they spend on the Chinese Super League which is often well documented in the West by news in the papers of 'unnamed Chinese club wants to pay 70 billion for x player." On the contrary, you never hear anything about Kyrgyz football in western media outlets and therefore nothing is really known about them to many English speakers which makes them an unknown quantity to most people around the world.
China hasn't had the best build upChina haven't exactly had the best build-up for this competition, with the powers that be in China messing around with sending players to the army, the nonsense about not selecting players with tattoos, and the daft U23 quotas (which I thought were a good idea, to begin with, but didn't say all the workarounds and loopholes and now I have come to the conclusion it is daft).
On top of these things, their friendlies running up to the tournament haven't gone exactly to plan, as they have only won once since June and that was against Syria. The teams China have played in these friendlies they should be beating, but they have struggled.
Then there is the issues with Lippi, who clearly doesn't want to be there anymore. His body language shows he is clearly fed up, who knows why? Could be all the interference, could it be that players aren't progressing how he expected, could he just be sick as a pig of China and want to head back to Italy for some banging ravioli? Whatever the reason is, it's clear to everyone that Lippi wants out and people watching China play know this, then the players will obviously know this too.
China to struggleI personally don't think China will win this game, for the reasons I have mentioned above. The Chinese team just don't seem like a bunch of happy campers right now, and that is not a good situation going into a major final.
The two things that could help them get out of the group are: Kyrgyzstan and Philippines are both debutants and the new format allowing 4 best third-placed teams to qualify. China won't do well in their group, but they may squeak through in general due to its weakness and the new format.
If they do squeak through then they'll be dumped out of the competition as soon as they have to face someone of equal or greater level. I am not expecting too much from China proving that splashing money all over the shop doesn't equate to success. China have the potential to get things right eventually and be a powerhouse in world football but right now it feels like they're getting a lot of the fundamentals very wrong.