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China and New Zealand play to a draw in Shanghai - Wild East Football
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China and New Zealand play to a draw in Shanghai

China 1 – 1 New Zealand
International Friendly
Zhao Peng 31′; Wood 43′

China, playing its last match of 2012, faced off against New Zealand in Shanghai last night and played to a tight 1-1 draw, with both goals coming in the first half. The match was very similar to the last time these two sides faced off, last year in Wuhan, a match that ended with the same score.

The uncharacteristic cold in Shanghai may have played a role in the match, as New Zealand only came out for a very short pre-match warmup. Despite Guangzhou Evergrande having the big CFA Cup final second leg match coming up this weekend, Camacho continued his policy of favoring players from the Cantonese side, starting 7 of them. That said, the star of the match was the one non-Evergrande midfielder, Yu Hanchao. The Liaoning attacker was responsible for much of China’s attack and played a part in the opening goal.

The home side looked strong for much of the first half, with a few excellent chances, including a good run by Gao Lin to beat the offside trap. Unfortunately, Gao’s finish was miles off target. On the half hour mark, a seeing eye New Zealand free kick led to a great chance with a Kiwi player all alone on the back post, but he tripped over his own feet and blew the shot. China immediately turned it into a chance to counter, Yu Hai playing a ball to Yu Hanchao, who had a good break though the chasing defender did a good job to block his shot out of bounds. Yu Hanchao took the resulting corner kick, finding the head of Zhao Peng. Zhao’s long header was well placed, just squeezed past the near post defender and in.

While China looked the better side for much of the first half, the Kiwis had plenty of chances of their own and were finally able to score just before the half. Their breakthrough would also come from a set piece, a free kick which Wang Dalei overplayed and Sun Xiang was stuck in place, allowing Chris Wood to knock in a header for the equalizer.

The second half saw many substitutions by both sides and a very different pace of play, with New Zealand looking the stronger team. Wang Dalei had a chance to make up for his earlier mistake by making a wonderful, fingertip save from point blank range on Marco Rojas. Up until that point, the youngster Rojas was one of the Kiwis’ best players, using his speed to create opportunities on the wing. Just past the hour mark, Yu Hanchao had the best chance of the half when he intercepted a Kiwi pass and created a break, though Gao proceeded to knock it into row z from a tight angle instead of passing.

The draw leaves plenty of reasons for optimism among Chinese fans, a decent ending to a not-so-good 2012.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.



  1. Chris Atkins

    14/11/2012 at 23:53

    2012 wasn’t so bad, was it? Defeats to Spain and Sweden were close, while Brazil was the only real embarrassment [with a depleted team]. Draws with Ghana and NZ are fairly encouraging, while Kuwait, Vietnam and Jordan were dispatched. Camacho is on the right track I think, with limited players and a tough start with the defeat to Iraq last year.

    • bcheng

      15/11/2012 at 10:36

      okay, looking back I was a bit harsh about 2012, all-in-all a not so bad year, but I disagree about Camacho. He’s the wrong person for the job and his team selection shows a lack of imagination and that he’s only willing to stick to the status quo. I just can’t see things improving with him in charge and I wonder how much he’s really in control.

      • Martin Kuroczik

        15/11/2012 at 14:29

        I share this concern with bcheng, the only way up is forward – mindset-wise. Hopefully Camacho will do just that over time. I felt yesterday that China played decent, with short passing, movement, switching sides and runs, pressuring the player on the ball and trying to get the ball onto the man in promising spaces and they created something. Even late on, they looked like they would like to make an effort to win despite being the weaker team in the second half. Revealed something about their attitude towards the game (with a lot of players on the pitch to be featured in the all-decisive second leg of the cup final where supposedly huge bonuses are to be handed to the winning players on either side). They made the round after the match in a Hongkou stadium filled with 6 – 8000 people, earning a deserved and warm round of applause. On impressive form yesterday again, was the voice-talent of Dongya Ayi!

        • Yiddo Huayi

          15/11/2012 at 15:54

          I agree that the players kept up the effort for the whole time – some very tenacious defence but where possible, still trying to play the ball out from the back. Also looked dangerous on the break, but just couldn’t finish off chances (same for both sides).

          A naive observation and thought: The rule of thumb that Asian football is very technical and fast while Australian/Oceania footy is more physical (i.e. lots more challenging for the ball) was by and large shown last night.

          I thought China won a lot of ball (particularly in the 1st half) by intercepting passes rather than dispossessing the opposition. Is this an area that China could work on (physical challenges)? By this I mean it just adds another aspect to their style of play and allows them to mix it up with other teams depending on their level.

  2. Yiddo Huayi

    15/11/2012 at 03:16

    A good game – fairly even although the AWs were more dominant in the 2nd half and possible China lost a bit of shape with the early subs.

    Nice to see Camacho has embraced his youngsters a bit more (ooh err) and over time they should develop into a good squad that can challenge for the 2018 World Cup (as long as there are some other youngsters coming through in the next few years).

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