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Coach Zhu takes positives from Aussie loss
Latest Updated by 2007-03-27 16:31:54
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Underfire Chinese coach Zhu Guanghu remained confident of a good Asian Cup showing despite the 0-2 defeat to Australia at the weekend.

"Sack him" read the headline on the front page of Titan sports paper yesterday as Zhu faced a predictable barrage of criticism from fans and media after the match in Guangzhou.

Zhu, who took charge after China failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals, said he expected the criticism.

"It's understandable, because everybody wants the team to win," he told reporters after the match.

Australia, which scored twice in the first 30 minutes on Saturday, reached the second round of last year's World Cup finals before joining the Asian Football Confederation in January.

Zhu thinks it is now the top team on the continent.

"We have to admit the last 16 team at the World Cup has extraordinary strength," he told Titan.

"It was understandable that we buckled under such a terrible pressure at the beginning and this was the very reason to play the friendly."

Zhu was encouraged by his team's second half performance, when it held the Australians scoreless and Europe-based players Zheng Zhi, Dong Fangzhuo and Shao Jiayi took the game to the visitors.

"I told the players after the match that I am more confident about the Asian Cup," he said.

"Australia should be the No. 1 team in Asia but we played against them better and better, didn't we? What did we learn from this match? We can also control a last 16 team of the World Cup in the second half."

Titan quoted a source at the Chinese Football Association as saying Zhu would be safe if he fulfilled the goal of reaching the last four at the Asian Cup in July.

China was losing finalist at the last Asian Cup and has been drawn with Iran, Malaysia and Uzbekistan in the group stage at the July 7-29 tournament.

China plays a friendly against Uzbekistan in Macau today.

Editor: Donald

By: Source:Shanghai Daily web edition
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