China manager Alain Perrin has named his 23-man squad for upcoming friendlies with Haiti and Tunisia, including a recall for previously out-of-favour defender Feng Xiaoting.
However, within just 24 hours of the squad being named, Perrin has been forced to reassess following the withdrawal of captain Zheng Zhi and full-back Zhang Chengdong due to injury. The duo join Zhang Linpeng, Zeng Cheng and Dai Lin on the sidelines.
In their place, Shanghai Shenhua’s Zhang Lu and Henan Jianye’s Gu Cao have been added to the party.
Guangzhou Evergrande and Jiangsu Sainty once more provide the bulk of the squad, providing five players apiece for the original selection. Shanghai SIPG also provide four players for the friendly fixtures.
The main post-announcement talking point, beyond Feng Xiaoting’s recall, has been the inclusion of Chongqing Lifan forward Zhang Chiming (pictured)—dubbed the “Chongqing Cristiano Ronaldo” by more reactionary (and possibly delusional) elements of the local media.
Zhang, 26, has played just two Super League games in his career, both coming in the past fortnight. While he was on the scoresheet in defeat to Guangzhou Evergrande last weekend, it is seen by many as a premature selection.
The inclusion of fellow uncapped players Zhang Lu, Jin Yangyang and Gu Cao were similarly unexpected. While yet to appear for China, both Yan Junling and Piao Cheng have been included in previous squads.
China will face Haiti on March 26 before taking on Tunisia on March 30 in what are the side’s first fixtures since January’s Asian Cup in Australia.
Goalkeepers: Yang Zhi (Beijing Guoan), Wang Dalei (Shandong Luneng), Yan Junling (Shanghai SIPG)
Defenders: Ren Hang (Jiangsu Sainty), Mei Fang, Feng Xiaoting (Guangzhou Evergrande), Zhang Chengdong* (Beijing Guoan), Jiang Zhipeng, Jin Yangyang (Guangzhou R&F).
Midfielders: Piao Cheng (Beijing Guoan), Zheng Zhi*, Yu Hanchao (Guangzhou Evergrande), Cai Huikang, Wu Lei, Yu Hai (Shanghai SIPG), Ji Xiang, Wu Xi, Liu Jianye, Sun Ke (Jiangsu Sainty).
Forwards: Gao Lin (Guangzhou Evergrande), Zhang Chiming (Chongqing Lifan), Yang Xu, Zhang Wenzhao (Shandong Luneng).
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