Where there’s a will, there’s a Wei: Beijing Guoan starlet inspires China to debut win at AFC Under-23 Championship
Third tournament lucky for the hosts as they get their inaugural points with crushing victory over Oman at Changzhou’s Olympic Stadium
Hosts China kicked off the 2017 AFC Under-23 Championship in style with a 3-0 win in the opening game of the tournament.
The win was China’s first at the championships and their first points, having been beaten in their previous six group games at the 2014 and 2016 editions.
Goals from Yang Liyu and Li Xiaoming put Massimiliano Maddaloni’s side two goals ahead at half-time at the Olympic Stadium in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, despite the visitors enjoying the lion’s share of possession.
A second-half header from new Beijing Guoan signing Wei Shihao sealed the 3-0 victory and capped a star performance from the forward.
Wei, who impressed after being handed his debut for the full national side at the recent East Asian Championships in Japan, was involved in all of China’s goals before being stretchered off.
Fans will hope he is fit in time to play in China’s second game when they face Uzebkistan on Friday afternoon.
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West Bromwich Albion striker Zhang Yuning, on loan at Werder Bremen in the German Bundesliga, is also a doubt for the game.
Zhang was included in the squad just before the deadline despite being injured at the national team’s Dubai training camp.
China’s performance at the tournament is of particular interest to those looking ahead to the 2018 Chinese Super League season after the Chinese Football Association ruled that for each foreign player selected by a club a local under-23 will also have to play.
National team manager Marcello Lippi watched on from the stands as he looks to introduce new blood to his squad.
China’s final group game is against Qatar on Monday January 15.