Marcello Lippi feels China must work to find the right balance between attack and defence against Philippines in their next Asian Cup match.
China had to come from behind to win 2-1 against Kyrgyzstan in their opening Group C encounter but can seal qualification for the next round in Friday’s game at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.
And Lippi, who won the World Cup with Italy in 2006, expects Philippines to pose a different type of challenge to most teams at the Asian Cup.
“I think they are more like a European team [compared to other sides] in this tournament,” Lippi told reporters.
“They have players who were born in Germany, Spain and Denmark with great talents physically. It will be a tough match for us, and three points is very important for us to qualify.
“For tomorrow’s match the most important thing for us is to find the balance between defence and offence. We must not make the same mistakes we made when we were against Kyrgyzstan.”
China battered Philippines 8-1 in a friendly last year but veteran coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has since inspired something of a turnaround in their fortunes.
Philippines impressed in their Asian Cup opener despite slipping to a 1-0 defeat to South Korea, with Eriksson positive about his side’s future.
“No one thought we would be able to beat South Korea,” said the former England boss. “We didn’t.
“But the way we handled the match, the way we played it… it was a big fight, we created chances. With a little bit of luck we could have got a different result.
“They won, but it’s good for the future. It gave confidence to the players. They feel that if we can do what we did against South Korea, we can do it against any team in this tournament because South Korea are one of the big favourites.”
What a day for China’s ! #AsianCup2019
Dabao Yu is Team Dragon’s three-points hero ! pic.twitter.com/iyjU9nuZcL
— #AsianCup2019 (@afcasiancup) January 7, 2019
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Philippines – Phil Younghusband
The apparent jibe from Lippi regarding overseas players was seemingly aimed at players such as British-born Younghusband, the captain and current top goalscorer for Philippines. Younghusband, whose brother James is also in the squad, came through Chelsea’s academy and was initially alerted to Filipino football authorities by a youngster who discovered his eligibility through squad lists on the FIFA football video game.
China – Zheng Zhi
Lippi’s on-field lieutenant is China captain Zheng Zhi. Having played in Europe with Charlton Athletic and Celtic earlier in his career, the vastly experienced mainstay can help to provide the midfield balance and controlled craved by his coach. The 38-year-old has been a key player for Guangzhou Evergrande since joining the Chinese Super League giants in 2010.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This will be the first encounter at the Asian Cup between Philippines and China.
– Since the 2015 Asian Cup, China have won each of their four Asian Cup group stage matches – all by a one-goal margin.
– Philippines lost their first-ever match at the Asian Cup 0-1 to South Korea. Only four debutants have lost their first two matches in the competition – Palestine in 2015, Bangladesh in 1980, South Yemen in 1976 and Cambodia in 1972.
– China have scored exactly two goals in four of their past five Asian Cup group stage matches, scoring once in the other clash.
– In their 1-0 loss to South Korea, Philippines recorded a 18.2 per cent possession figure – the lowest posted in an Asian Cup game since the 2011 tournament.
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