China toasts rare soccer qualification in the Asian Cup quarterfinals

World Today

China supporters form a sea of red shirts as they wave small flags in support after the AFC Asia Cup soccer match between China and Uzbekistan in Brisbane, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. Photo: AP

Two straight victories ensured China’s national soccer team a quarterfinal spot at the Asian Cup on Wednesday. It’s the first time since 2004 that the country reached the tournament knockout stage, creating quite a bit of excitement on Chinese media.

China beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 on Sunday and then defeated Uzbekistan 2-1 Wednesday, ensuring China the top place of Group B with one more game in hand.

China’s internet portal said that China’s two opening straight wins in the group stage was the best start for China in 27 years in the Asian Cup.

The heavyweight newspaper People’s Daily expressed thanks to the team on its social media account and admitted the first quarterfinal berth in 11 years was good enough to earn applause from all.

The black horse performance also inspired Chinese internet users to make jokes about China’s soccer, not traditionally known as a winning team. When the team would fall behind by one goal or two goals — which was the most likely scenario in previous matches — the phrase “There’s little time left for Chinese team” was usually used. But this time, it was paraphrased to “There’s little time left for Uzbekistan” when China moved ahead with a score of 2-1 in the match.

A lot of soccer fans wrote on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, that they expect to see the Chinese team in the 2018 World Cup finals.

“Sometimes spirit is what matters,” former Chinese soccer player and coach Li Yi said on his Weibo account. “As long as you play your best, I will support you for good.”


This story is compiled with information from Xinhua.