China not confident of Europe-based player recalls

The China Football Association has sent letters to seven European football clubs recalling Chinese international players for Asian Cup warm-up games late in March. Right-back Sun Jihai of Manchester City, left-back Sun Xiang of PSV Eindhoven, midfielder Zheng Zhi of Charlton, striker Dong Fangzhuo of Manchester United, midfielder Shao Jiayi of Energie Cottbus, midfielder Li Tie of Sheffield United and Shi Jun in Sweden are on the name list of group training in run-up to the warm-ups. China, ninth-ranked in Asia, will play against second-ranked Australia in Guangzhou on 24 March, a FIFA-designated interational game day and fifth-placed Uzbekistan three days later.

"We need the best lineup as the Asian Cup is nearing," said head coach Zhu Guanghu, "The Europe-experiencing national players will play key roles at the Cup so we must take every chance to get them trained with the rest of the team." The head coach added Australia was also trying to recall their national players in Europe.

An insider with the China national team is worried that the recall may be ineffective. "The fact is those clubs our internationals are playing for are not in a very good state. They need to safeguard what they had already got," he said told Coldness Kwan of China Daily.