I feel like a broken record at this point, but there’s probably a reason why. Every time China gives its fans a bit of hope, it very quickly finds a way to crush that hope in new and ever more devastating ways. On paper, China looked like the better team and, at home, getting three points against Iraq should have been very doable, and yet when the final whistle blew, it was disappointment once again.
China was felled by an Iraqi goal right before the end of the first half, a long pass came in, the defense was out of sorts, not putting enough pressure on the one Iraqi striker, but also leaving leeway for another, the two attackers worked a beautiful one two play and got one past Yang Zhi, who once again played an incredible game and should finally end the discussion about potential replacements.
Camacho’s decision to start Feng Renliang over Yu Hai was a bit of a shock, but Feng seemed like he was up for the task and often looked very dangerous, the problem was it never amounted to very much. Another Camacho change, Huang Bowen, also impressed on the night, but it was all for naught. Camacho insists on playing a 4-5-1 and that just doesn’t seem to work for China, Gao Lin, who was back in the lineup tonight, simply isn’t a good enough striker to function in this system.
Even after Iraq went down to ten men after a player collected a second yellow, China couldn’t take advantage of it. Iraq played a very physical game, but their plan to rough up China seemed to work wonders and they managed to get the one goal that they needed.
I’m still not ready to say Camacho is a bad coach, it’s way too early for that, the situation he was thrown into is all too familiar though and no matter who they brought in, they might not be able to do better. Camacho has no idea of the players he has on his side, their strengths and weaknesses, and its showed. He also has yet to build any rapport with his players, part of that is the language difference, part of it is the lack of time with them, and another part of it is the language difference (and CFA’s failure to find a decent translator for him).
Now China sits in 3rd place with 3 points out of 3 matches, Jordan is on 9 points and looks assured to advance, so now China must fight for the remaining spot, but that fight will get harder as they have to go to Iraq (who is on 6 points) in a month and win back the points they lost tonight. It seemed like it would all work out, an easy draw, a solid squad, a lot of reasons for hope, but once again the national team proves you can never have hope when talking about Chinese football.
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