Marcello Lippi’s China take on Gareth Bale’s Wales to kick-off 2018 China Cup in March
First meeting between the countries takes place in the next international break in what will also be a debut game for the incoming Welsh manager
Hosts China will play Gareth Bale’s Wales and Uruguay will face the Czech Republic the following night when the four country’s men’s soccer teams convene for the 2018 China Cup to be held during the March international break.
The hosts play the Welsh on the evening of March 22 with the South Americans facing the Czechs the following day, after the schedule has now been confirmed for the second edition of the tournament.
The winners of those games will meet in the final on March 26, with the losers playing off for third-place in the afternoon before the showpiece. All of the games will take place in the Guangxi Sports Centre in Nanning.
The China Cup will give China a chance to test themselves against teams currently ranked in the top 50 of Fifa’s most recent world rankings in 19th-placed Wales, 21st-placed Uruguay and 48th-placed Czech Republic. China are currently ranked at 60. Neither Wales nor the Czech Republic have played China before.
Of the visitors only Uruguay have qualified for next summer’s Fifa World Cup in Russia and they will be expected to bring a full-strength side, including Barcelona striker Luis Suarez, as they prepare for a tournament that they have won twice before.
China manager Marcello Lippi has suggested that he will return to his experienced players after taking a youthful, experimental squad to the recent East Asia Championships where China finished third.
The opening match with China will be the first game in charge for whoever takes over from Chris Coleman as manager of Wales. Coleman had suggested that star man Bale would play in China if he was fit, but the manager has since left his role with the national side to take over at Sunderland.
Chile beat Iceland to win the first China Cup, which took place in January this year. The hosts finished third after beating Croatia on penalties in the third-place play-off.