Al Kesen of China celebrates after the group A match between China and Guam at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, Oct. 10, 2019. (Xinhua/Cao Can)
China beat Guam 7-0 in their first home game at the Qatar 2022 World Cup Asian qualifiers at the Tianhe Sports Center here on Thursday.
China now move on top of Group A after two wins in a row. According to the rules, eight first-placed teams from each group and the best four second-ranking teams can qualify for the next round, in which 12 teams will compete for the tickets to the 2022 World Cup finals.
"Although our opponents are not strong, our players played a good game. We had some good combinations and got three points. Our target is to qualify for the last 12 stage," said China's coach Marcello Lippi after the match. "The players were very focused, that's good. But they could improve their touches in some cases."
With a three-proned striking group of La Liga Espanyol player Wu Lei, Yang Xu and Ai Kesen, the hosts scored six goals before the break. Yang Xu made a super performance with four goals, while Wu Lei and midfielder Wu Xi contributed the other two in the first half.
"My team are made of amateurs and from the first three games we showed our amateurish performance," commented the guests' boss Karl Dodd. "We lost ourselves in the first half, and I asked my boys to enjoy the game after the break. We tried to attack throughout the game, but it's the reality that we have big gaps."
Naturalized player Ai Kesen continued his scoring streak for the second game at the World Cup qualifiers, after making a brace in the first 5-0 win over Maldives. The striker netted home comfortably with a follow-up drive from close range on 75 minutes.
"Considering it's the late stage of the Chinese Super League and Ai Kesen also played in the AFC Champions League, he is not at his best physical condition after fighting in three competitions," the Italian boss defended Ai Kesen at the press conference.
Wu Lei could have found his second five minutes into the second half, only to see his acrobatic overhead kick go wide of the near post following captain Hao Junmin's right wing cross.
Lippi brought on several substitutes to the Chinese lineup, including naturalized player Li Ke after the break, but the hosts could not change the tally after Ai Kesen's goal.
China will next play the Philippines on Oct. 15 in an away match. Syria, who defeated the Philippines 5-2 as guests in their first game, are the main rivals for China in Group A. The Syrians can also earn six points if they beat the Maldives later on Thursday.