China's players "going crazy" in Asian Cup training

China goes into the AFC Asian Cup 2007 urgently needing to pull out of a dizzying free-fall after a series of embarrassing results. With key players either clubless or uncertain of weekly starting spots, China are up against it in a tough Group C featuring three-times champions Iran, co-hosts Malaysia and Uzbekistan, Asia's fifth-ranked team. Their backs to the wall, Zhu said his players were "going crazy" in training as they bid to make amends on the big stage, starting on 10 July against co-hosts Malaysia. "They are going crazy during training. They are shouting and screaming at each other and trying to encourage each other. It's amazing," Zhu told China Daily.

Captain Zheng Zhi also voiced hope China, despite results like the 4-1 thrashing by the United States, would turn it on against Asian opposition. "I know that the national squad have shown some indifferent form in the past few friendlies but we are still on the right track and I believe we will be fully prepared when the Asian Cup starts," Zheng said. "I am hopeful of reaching the semi-finals or even the final and will be doing my utmost to help the national team achieve that goal."