Out of our hands: China’s date with third round of World Cup qualifying depends on fate
Even if mainlanders defeat Qatar at home in Xian, it will not be enough to see them through because five of the eight teams now in second place have scored more points
China are desperate for a win over high-flying Qatar in their 2018 World Cup qualifier in Xian on Tuesday, but are only too aware their chances of reaching the final round of regional qualifiers are beyond their own control.
The visitors have won all their seven previous matches to finish top of group C.
If China are to end up among the top 12 teams in Asia by being one of the four best second-placed teams in eight groups across the continent, the mainlanders have to have a lot of luck go their way in other matches today.
Unfortunately, for China, five of the eight teams currently lying second – Syria, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, North Korea and Iraq – have all scored more points than the mainlanders.
“There is nothing we can do about the other results,” said midfielder Huang Bowen of Guangzhou Evergrande.
“It would be better if we focus on our own match first and win. Whether we can qualify or not will only be the next matter. The situation is, of course, difficult and we have no option but to beat Qatar.”
After watching two disappointing goalless draws against Hong Kong in group C, Frenchman Alain Perrin was removed from the manager’s post in February and replaced by Gao Hongbo, who was the China manager from 2009-2011.
Gao led them to success with a 4-0 win over Maldives last week, but vowed to step down if China fail to beat Qatar.
Qatar will be missing a number of key players from the team that defeated Hong Kong 2-0 in Doha last week.
Both goalscorers against Hong Kong – Hasan al-Haydos and Sebastian Soria – will be suspended after receiving their second booking in the match, along with forward Ali Asadalla Thaimn, while defender Ahmed Yasser Abdelrahman is injured.
Reports from the Gulf said their Uruguayan coach Daniel Carreno wanted more from his side as “China must be fought with discipline and a good level of football. It is important to qualify directly to the next stage of qualifiers,” Carreno said.
In other matches, Jordan take on group B leaders Australia in Sydney, while UAE will host group A leaders Saudi Arabia. In group E, Syria will travel to Saitama to meet leaders Japan, while North Korea look set to beat the Philippines in group H despite playing away. In group F, Iraq will host Vietnam in their “home ground” in Tehran, Iran.