Star forward Wu Lei and four Brazilian-born naturalised players will not form part of the 25-man squad when China meet Oman in the next round of the World Cup qualifying matches on March 24. China’s hopes of qualifying for the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 ended after their 3-1 defeat to Vietnam in February, the team play Saudi Arabia in Group B on March 24, and take on Oman five days later. After much speculation about the future of naturalised players in the national team, head coach Li Xiaopeng unveiled his 25-player squad, all but confirming the end of a long-standing relationship. Wu has opted out of the next two matches as he fights for a position in his club Espanol of Spain’s La Liga. Forward Wei Shihao and midfielder Chi Zhongguo were not listed in the starting line-up due to injury. Naturalised Chinese players Ai Kesen, Luo Guofu, Fei Nanduo and A Lan, who terminated their contracts with Chinese Super League side Guangzhou FC last month have since relocated to Brazil. After China’s 3-1 defeat to Vietnam, the four players went straight to the airport and flew home, as did Espanyol forward Wu Lei, who left Hanoi for Barcelona, ahead of his side’s La Liga fixture against Athletic Bilbao. Is men’s football in China shameful? 320 million Weibo users say yes There had been talk online that the Brazilians would be part of the next two games in the UAE. Their omission is now being attributed to a lack of fitness. The Chinese team, with only three forwards Zhang Yuning, Tan Long and Liu Binbin, was expected to fly to Dubai, sometime on Thursday, where British-born defender Jiang Guangtai and Li Lei from Swiss club Grasshopper Zurich will join the team. Three goalkeepers have been announced in Wang Dalei, Liu Dianzuo and Yan Junling, with some 11 defenders announced in the initial line-up to include Li Lei, Zhang Linpeng and Tong Lei. Eight midfielders were also announced, including Wuhan FC’s Hao Junmin and Shanghai Shenhua’s Wu Xi. The lead up to both games has been nothing short of dramatic, with calls to radically overhaul the national team, from a training perspective, to compensation, their image and their place in the community. This has included implementing a military style of training, tattoo removals, behavioural codes and ideological and political education activities. Earlier this week a feud broke out online after well-known comedian Gong Hanlin said the men’s football team was ‘a complete shame for China’.