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    China coach Li urges players to go all out in World Cup qualifiers

    Xinhua | Updated: 2021-09-02 09:44
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    Head coach Li Tie is seen before a Group A match between China and Guam at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification in Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu province, in this May 30, 2021 file photo. [Photo/Xinhua]

    DOHA - China's national team head coach Li Tie has urged his players to go all out in the upcoming final round of the FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers, ahead of his team's clash against Australia here on Thursday.

    "The Australian side is a very strong team in Asia who have qualified for the World Cup many times. I am very happy to have the opportunity to challenge them and we have made good preparations for the game," Li said in the pre-match press conference on Wednesday.

    China has been drawn against Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Oman in the final round of the Asian qualifying tournament. The top two teams will qualify directly, with the third-place finishers entering a play-off.

    "It's clear that we are the fourth seeded team in the group," said Li, 44. "When we are competing with those better teams like Japan and Australia, I can accept any result as long as we fight hard. We will not give up any match and I want my players to give everything. Every team in the final round has the opportunity to win."

    Due to domestic epidemic prevention policy in Australia, captain Mathew Leckie and several key players for Australia will not feature against China. However, Li dismissed the notion that his side's task would be easier as a result. "Because of the pandemic, each team has its changes and difficulties. For a [strong] team like Australia, [missing several players] won't be a great loss. They are still at a high level like before."

    The match between China and Australia will be held in the Khalifa International Stadium, where the Chinese team beat Qatar 2-1 in the last game of the previous World Cup qualifiers in September 2017, but failed to advance to the finals in Russia. "I hope we can win tomorrow as we did four years ago," said China captain Wu Xi.

    "We need to be calm and brave. All our players are ready to fight under the leadership of coach Li, and I hope to play a wonderful game for our fans in China," Wu added.

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