According to the Chinese government, there are 56 recognized ethnicities in China. In the past, majority of the players in the Chinese national team were of the dominant Han ethnicity which comprise 92% of China’s population. However, lately there has been an increasing amount of players from different Chinese ethnicities making it into the squad – here’s a rundown of who they are, past and present.
Zhao played for the Chinese National Team on 63 occasions and scored two goals. He played a vital role in China’s Asian Cup 2004 campaign where they finished runners-up. He is captain for Liaoning F.C., a football team that he has played for since his youth.
Defensive Midfielder/Shandong Luneng
Muzaffar, more commonly known as Maitijiang in the Chinese media, is one of China’s most exciting prospects at the moment. Born into a football family, he was the first Uyghur player to play in the Chinese Super League. His strong performance for Henan Construction earned him the captain’s armband in the Chinese Olympic squad.
He recently scored his first Asian Champions League goal for Shandong Luneng against Arema Indonesia. Maitijiang has been consistently linked with Ajax Amsterdam and its rumoured the Dutch club are to offer a trial, something which they are said to be in dispute with Shandong over.
Bari Mamatil, or commonly known as Bali in the Chinese media, is another Uyghur player and he’s making his name at Hangzhou Greentown. Bali was the first Uyghur player to score in the AFC Champions League (Hangzhou Greentown vs. Nagoya Grampus). His work ethic has been constantly praised by the Chinese media. He was part of the Chinese Olympic Team that played a friendly against the South Korea Olympic team in Seoul.
Jin is another top player from Yanbian FC, a team playing in China’s second level league and located near the North Korean border in Jilin province. He recently made his debut for China in a friendly again Costa Rica . He also played for the U-20 team where he scored four goals in eight games.
Born in Yanbian, Korean-Chinese Piao Cheng is one of the star players of Yanbian F.C. His performances have caught the eye of several South Korean scouts and he was briefly linked with South Korean team Suwon Bluewings. Piao Cheng is also considered as one of the star players for the Chinese Olympic Team. He is bilingual, fluent in Chinese and Korean. His fluency in Korean has impressed the South Korean media during a post-game interview after the Chinese Olympic Team vs. South Korean Team friendly in Seoul.
Defender/Shanghai East Asia
Eddy Francois, or commonly known as Aidi, is a defender born to a Tasmanian father and a Shanghainese mother. By playing for 20 minutes for the China U-14 team in his only Chinese national appearance so far, Aidi was the first mixed-blood player to feature for the national team. The young defender has been following Yu Genwei since the start of his career. Aidi does not know French or English; he is only fluent in Mandarin.
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