NEWS > Sports
China aiming to finish top
2005-06-20 03:49:23 www.sinosoc.com

Beijing, Jun. 17(Sinosoc) -- China need just a point from their final WYC first round game against Panama this evening to finish top of Group B and a possible last sixteen clash with Germany or Argentina.

The Chinese media have already begun to analyse the U20's possible opponents if, as expected, they beat Panama in Utrecht. China have a 60% chance of meeting Germany or Argentina in the knock-out phase, a 30% possibility of facing Morocco or Chili, and a 10% of playing against Japan or Australia.

"The team will do its best to finish first in the group. The China U20 team doesn't care which third-placed team it meets in the next round," said China boss Eckhard Krautzun. "There is no pressure on Panama in our final group game and they will probably play very well. Although Turkey and Ukraine beat Panama and we beat them, we shouldn't just assume that we will defeat Panama easily.

"By finishing top of our group we would avoid meeting strong teams like Brazil and Nigeria. We could face Argentina in the last sixteen, but it wouldn't be the end of the world as Argentina haven't done well in this tournament and they are not in form. They lost to the USA, they're not as good as they were four years ago (China lost to Argentina at the 2001 WYC), and I think we can beat Argentina if we meet them. Our first two games have shown that if we prepare well we can beat anyone."

Tianjin Teda midfielder Hao Junmin said: "As a Chinese player, how many chances will we get to play against teams like Argentina in our careers? If we can play against them in an important tournament like this one, we can learn a lot. It's not a bad thing to meet a strong team in the next round."

Captain Feng Xiaoting is set to miss today's match against Panama after suffering a muscular injury in Tuesday's win over Ukraine. Krautzun is likely to bring in Yuan Weiwei for Feng in defence and is forced to make several changes to his team, with Cui Peng and Zhu Ting both suspended. And with Chen Tao, Zhao Xuri, Zhao Ming, Tan Wangsong and Zheng Tao all on cautions, the German coach will be urging his players not to pick up yellow cards against the central Americans.

Striker Dong Fangzhuo still doesn't know if he will play against Panama after angering Krautzun for throwing a bottle of water against an advertising board when he discovered he wouldn't come on during the Ukraine victory. The incident was seen by FIFA, but the player has since apologised. "His behaviour is unacceptable. If he doesn't want to change his attitude, he can go," said Krautzun of the Manchester United youngster. "I can understand his frustration because he is really anxious to play. But we haven't decided if we will let him play the last game."

Probable China line-up to face Panama: Yang Cheng; Liu Yu, Yuan Weiwei, Zhao Ming, Tan Wangsong; Hao Junmin, Wang Hongliang, Zhao Xuri, Chen Tao; Gao Lin, Mao Biao

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