Wu Lei's winner against Indonesia boosts China's Asian Cup hopes
Guangzhou's AFC Champions League glory proves perfect inspiration for national side
Less than one week after Guangzhou Evergrande scooped the AFC Champions League title, China returned the favour by easing past Indonesia 1-0 to take a giant step towards qualifying for the finals of the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia.
Caretaker coach Fu Bo was a satisfied man in Xian after Wu Lei scored the only goal of the game with a header a minute into first-half stoppage to keep China unbeaten after three qualifying matches. China sit in second place in group C and now face Saudi Arabia on Tuesday at Tianhe Stadium - the venue of Guangzhou's Asian Champions League victory last Saturday.
China have seven points from four games with two games to play after Fu started the game with seven players from their Asian Champions League-winning side, Guangzhou Evergrande, with the ever-reliable Zheng Zhi at the helm.
"Our team is improving gradually, gaining experience from big tournaments. This game was similar to the last one as we led by the end of the first half. That is why I told my players to stay focused and composed. We had more opportunities in the second half, but we couldn't make it," Fu told AFC.com
"Today, the Indonesian team were very tough and brought us lots of trouble. We still had the old problem of being dominant in the first half, but lost it a bit in the second half. If we had done well with the counter-attacks in the second half, we would have had more advantages."
Zheng was celebrating on two fronts after he was shortlisted for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) awards, having been nominated for the Player of the Year last night.
In group A, Syria avenged their earlier loss to Singapore by thrashing the Lion City 4-0 with late goals from Ahmad Aldouni, Ouday Jaffal and Abdulfatah Al Agha claiming the Syrians' first win of the group.
Syria had lost to Singapore 2-1 in the first leg, but made no mistake this time around in Tehran to stay in the hunt, moving to third place in the group ahead of next week's clash with Oman.
Three-time Asian Cup champions Iran also coasted to an easy victory, defeating 10-man Thailand 3-0 in group B with goals from Ashkan Dejagah, Reza Ghoochannejhad and Alireza Jahan Bakhsh. Qatar beat 10-man Yemen 4-1 in Al Ain.