Near Disaster in the Desert

China went to the Middle East once again, this time Qatar, and once again, the result was a letdown. China came out and played overly defensive, but still had a few decent chances, the best was a great series of passes that ended with a Sun Jihai shot just wide and a second half chance by Han Peng, which the keeper was just barely able to knock wide. China's defensive strategy was in one sense rewarded by the fact that, despite the intense heat and being on the road, they are able to return to China with 1 point.

Syed Bechir almost destroyed China's run of draws with a great chance just 2 minutes from the whistle, but the crossbar saved the keeper, as well as China's dream of a spot in the next round of qualifying (at this point, its too much to say "China's dream of appearing in South Africa"). Soria was strong and China failed to find an answer for him defensively for most of the match. China was outplayed for the most part, but a draw seems like a fair result, all things considered.

This means that the match on Saturday is a definite must-win situation for China. As things stand right now, after 3 games, things look like this:
1. Australia - 7 points
2. Qatar - 4 points
3. China - 3 points
4. Iraq - 1 point

China will put itself in a strong position to advance if it can beat Qatar and Iraq in Tianjin the next two weekends. This would give them 9 points and see them surpass Qatar in the standings. Australia has looked beatable in their previous two matches and their next two matches will be in the Middle Eastern heat, in Dubai and Doha, so a Qatari upset of the Aussies could really damage Chinese hopes. Taking care of business at home would make things easier for the Chinese when they go to Sydney on the final matchday. The Chinese side definitely doesn't want that final match in Australia be one where they need points to advance.

There will be a bit more for you on Friday previewing Matchday 4.

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