China got off to a great start in the 2007 edition of the Asian Cup with a dominant 5-1 victory yesterday over host's Malaysia. The team jumped out to an early lead with a goal from Han Peng after 15 minutes and followed it up with a Shao Jiayi strike later in the half. The team followed it up with another goal by Han Peng as well as two by Wang Dong in the second half.
Despite the imposing score line, China had a number of problems, especially in handling Malaysia's set pieces. Further, while the 1 striker formation was enough against Malaysia, whose defense was full of huge holes, it might not work so well against stronger teams like Iran and Uzbekistan. Zhu has a few decisions to make because despite Wang's 2 goals (and an assist), his pace on the right wing is lacking and this could stunt China's counterattack opportunities. Also, Zhou Haibin, who got the start in Li Tie's traditional central defensive midfield position, was nonexistant on the pitch, but Tie Zi, who came in as a sub, didn't perform very well. Will Zhu stick with Wang or go with Zhu Ting? What about the situation with Zhou or Li Tie or another alternative, Zhao Xuri?
While it was a pretty good overall performance, China fans can't get overconfident. The team got the job done, but the job will get much harder when they face off against Iran this weekend. Iran tied them for first in the group with a 2-1 win tonight against Uzbekistan. A full preview of that match will come this weekend.