Fifa World Cup 2022
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China’s Wu Lei celebrates scoring against the Philippines at the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 preliminary joint qualification in Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates. Photo: Xinhua

World Cup 2022: China beats the Philippines in Asian qualifiers to edge closer to third round of qualifiers

  • Goals from Wu Lei and Wu Xinghan put China within touching distance in runners-up table as coach Li Tie focuses on last two group games
  • Filipino coach Palami on elbow incident: ‘China deserved the win but Tang should have been sent off’

China have kept their 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifying hopes alive after beating the Philippines 2-0 in an Asian zone group A match in the United Arab Emirates on Monday night.

La Liga forward Wu Lei scored a penalty before wingback Wu Xinghan doubled their tally in the second half. The win leaves coach Li Tie’s team in second place behind Syria but still in with a chance of reaching the third qualifying round as a runner-up team.

China lie just outside the best group runners-up threshold – they are currently sixth – thanks to group E leaders Qatar giving up their spot having qualified as hosts. The top five also qualify for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

“For many reasons, we had to give up home advantage and play in the scorching heat. It was a match that tested our willpower,” man-of-the-match Wu Lei told Xinhua, alluding to some qualifiers being moved from Suzhou, China, to the UAE for Covid-19-related precautions.
Wu Lei celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal in their group A match against the Philippines. Photo: Xinhua

“We didn’t concede and I think this is more important than my personal performance. Winning the match under such difficult circumstances reflects not only the efforts of the players, but the hard work of all teammates and staff.”

After a tense first half that started with a red card debate and ended with naturalised striker Ai Kesen having a goal disallowed, China managed to break their opponents in the second half after Ai was brought down in another duel with Philippines goalkeeper Bernd Schipmann. The subsequent penalty was Wu’s third goal in two matches.

The Philippines attack through Mark Hartmann as China’s Wu Xi tries to defend. Photo: Xinhua

Though their chances of qualification have marginally improved, China must comprehensively beat the Maldives on Friday and hope to get a result against already-qualified Syria on June 15 in their two remaining matches to ensure a best second-placed team finish. China have already qualified for the Asian Cup as hosts.


“It was a tough game and a good win,” coach Li said. “There are still two games left but we are focused only on the next one.”

Philippines coach Dan Palami felt Chinese player Tang Miao should have been sent off after 20 minutes following an elbow on defender Michael Kempter, who was substituted due to injury.

“China deserved the victory but Tang should have been sent off for hurting Kempter’s nose,” Palami said, highlighting two or three clear chances missed on the break in the first half.

“We also had eight or nine players who didn’t make it, so I’m quite happy with the performance of my players.”

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: China keep qualifying hopes alive in the UAE