Nico Yennaris (Li Ke) to make debut for China

Today China take on the Philippines with a match that will see Lippi back to the dugout again and it could also make history for the national side. This is true as when China takes to the pitch at the Tianhe Stadium in Guangzhou with the number 25 being a London born midfielder Nico Yennaris (Li Ke). 

China needs to improve 

The China national side needs an overhaul and after the Asian Cup when the country had the oldest average age at the tournament it was clear changes was needed. It looked like reforms could be on the horizon too as Lippi left the building (for a short time) he was then replaced by a player he managed to a World Cup win in Fabio Cannavaro.

Cannavaro though who also manages China's unofficial feeder club Guangzhou Evergrande oversaw a dreadful China Cup. This was seen with the country losing 1-0 to both Thailand and Uzbekistan. The fans were of course not happy and it was seen with the low crowds and it pretty much guaranteed the younger Italian would not last long with the national side. 

New look side

On Friday we expect to see a new China side take to the field with one player in particular making headlines. That is, of course, Nico Yennaris or more commonly now known in China as Li Ke. As the 26-year-old is set to be the first nationalised player to make his debut for the country after making his CSL debut at the end of March.
Li Ke in action for China 
Meanwhile, Zheng Zhi the 38-year-old despite still being in the squad is handing over the captains armband. This will now be worn by Hao Junmin the 32-year-old midfielder for Shandong Luneng.

The match will then mark a historic moment in Chinese football with the experienced defender handing over the armband and the first nationalised international is set to make his debut.

It is expected that Li Ke will start for China too despite not getting his number 8 shirt. Reports suggest the China team will lineup with a 4-3-3.

A suggested lineup for the side would be below;

GK: Yan Junling
Defenders: Li Lei, Zhu Chenjie, Zhang Linpeng, Wang Gang
Midfielders: Zhang Xizhe, Li Ke, Hao Junmin
Forwards: Xie Pengfei, Yang Xu, Zhang Yuning

In this side, Li Ke will sit in the middle of the park using his experience to break up play and start up attacks. Then up top with two players outside who are 22-years-old through the middle Yang Xu will provide the experience.

The attack will be a key part to look out for with them all looking to impress as they know one of them will lose their place to Wu Lei when the World Cup qualifiers start.

The numbers 

For fans looking to watch the game but unable to understand the Chinese commentary here is some of the key players to look out for with their squad numbers.

You will see Li Ke wearing shirt number 25, then Wei Shihao of Evergrande is number 14 and the former captain Zheng Zhi is number 10. It is thought the number 7 shirt normally worn by Wei was lost due to him breaking the leg of an Uzbekistan player.

Then Zhang Yuning will wear the number 9 shirt as the Beijing Guoan man looks to continue his good form upon his return to China from Holland.

In all this is a new China side who will key to get going again before the World Cup qualifiers begin and win over the Philippines today and Tajikistan on Tuesday will help to give confidence again to fans of the national side.

If am honest am still unsure how this team will perform and I am not a big fan of the return of Lippi but time will tell if the CFA were right to bring back the experienced coach.

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