China’s hopes of prolonging their Asian Cup run and upsetting Australia in the quarter-finals have been dealt a blow after captain Zheng Zhi went down with a back injury.
Influential skipper Zheng 34, had risked suspension by starting the game against DPR Korea having already received a yellow card in their tournament opener against Saudi Arabia but although he avoided a second booking of the competition he was substituted in the 53rd minute as a precaution.
Perrin warned his players against a backlash from the Socceroos after they were beaten 1-0 by South Korea in their final group game on Saturday, giving them an extra day’s rest.
” Zheng Zhi is very important for the team, a key player. ” coach Alain Perrin told reporters. ” He is a good organiser in midfield and a very experienced player. ”
One of China’s most successful players, Zheng now plies his trade at Chinese champions Guangzhao Evergrande having had stints in Scotland with Celtic and the Premier League with Charlton Athletic.
” We have one day less recovery time than Australia, and we also need to spend one day on a trip from here [Canberra] to Brisbane. ” said the former Portsmouth manager.
” The pitch there is not very good, ” said Perrin. ” But we have to play the match there – I think it’s a pity for a knockout stage game. “