China has to come from behind to get off to a winning startJust as we predicted China were going to struggle in their first game against Kyrgyzstan mainly due to all the weird goings-on lately in Chinese football and the Lippi situation. For most of the game what we said was proving to be correct until some horrific goalkeeping from the Kirghiz number one.
Trailing at the break, China quickly rallied to score right from the restart, direct from a corner as the Kirghiz keeper Pavel Matiash attempted to catch the ball and somehow managed to put the ball in his own net.
Things went from bad to worse for big Pavel as China broke through the Kirghiz back line with some nice through ball passing and Pav was sluggish in coming off his line. Yu Dabao got there before the big keeper, rounded him and tapped into an open net to make it 2-1 to China with roughly 15 minutes left on the clock. Kyrgyzstan looked deflated at that point, as all fight seemed to be sucked out of them from the keeping mistakes. China will be glad for the win, but they were a little lucky how it came about, they'll need to up their game because they won't be gifted goals on a plate all tournament.
China should make the next roundWith that win, I think China will make the next round now, if they don't it would be a huge disaster because of the new format. The Philippines are likely to pose a similar challenge as Kyrgyzstan did tonight, and if China comes out of it with even just a draw it is very likely they will make it to the second round.
If they want to break their terrible record against South Korea however, the performance will have to be much improved because on that showing tonight Korea will have seen nothing that worries them. I still stand by what I said that China will come a cropper once they face a team of similar size or bigger in the knockout stages and that will be goodnight Vienna.
China got lucky tonight, and luck can only take you so far. They'll need to up their game massively to go as far as they'd like to. The potential is there to do well in the tournament but can they manage to find a rhythm is the question...we remain to be convinced by Lippi's team.