China prepares for World Cup qualifiers

China prepares for World Cup qualifiers

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China’s national football team’s next World Cup qualifiers will be postponed until at least October due to the COVID-19 outbreak, said head coach Li Tie.

Li, who took over after Marcelo Lippi’s abrupt departure, said he and his players are braced for complications brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced the postponement or cancelation of sporting events across the world.

“Based on the information we gathered, and under the current circumstances, our World Cup qualifiers will be postponed to October or November,” Li told Chinese television on Friday.

“FIFA and the AFC will probably make some adjustments to the match schedule according to the development of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whatever happens and whatever difficulties we face, my players will do their best to play every match and achieve our aim of reaching the next phase of qualifying,” he added.

China had undergone a 34-day training camp in Dubai in anticipation of now-postponed World Cup qualifiers against the Maldives and Guam.

These matches had been scheduled to take place on March 26 and 31 respectively behind closed doors in Buriram, Thailand, but were called off due to the increasing spread of COVID-19.

Upon returning to China on March 23, all members of the team were put through an obligatory two-week quarantine in the southern Chinese city of Sanya.

“A lot of things we never experienced before happened over these days. It did us good as it brought us closer together and boosted our confidence in overcoming difficulties,” Li said.

China currently sit second of five teams in AFC qualifying Group A with seven points from four games, eight points behind group leaders Syria.

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