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Australia, China to renew blossoming rivalry at Asian Cup

Updated: 2015-01-21 11:46

Australia, China to renew blossoming rivalry at Asian Cup

China's Sun Ke celebrates after scoring a goal against North Korea during their Asian Cup Group B soccer match at the Canberra stadium in Canberra January 18, 2015.  [Photo/Agencies]

A 1-0 win in Sydney and a 4-3 victory in Seoul at the East Asia Cup holds China in good stead ahead of the match, but it was back in March 2008 when the first signs of this friendly rivalry began to be established.

In a qualifier for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, China moved its home fixture to the southern parts of the country in Kunming. The hosts then underwent a two-month training camp to deal with the high altitude of the Yunnan province, while Australia was left thoroughly unprepared for the conditions.

In a hard fought contest, a late Mark Schwarzer penalty save ensured Australia left with a goalless draw, but plenty to talk about.

In August last year, the rivalry transcended from national to club level, with Western Sydney Wanderers playing out a spiteful Asian Champions League quarter final with Guangzhou Evergrande.

Guangzhou's then-manager Marcelo Lippi was ushered off the field after erupting into a tirade of abuse towards the referee as Western Sydney recorded an away goals victory on their way to the title.

Eight of China's 23-man squad at the Asian Cup, including captain Zheng Zhi, featured for Guangzhou on that evening, while Australian striker Tomi Juric scored in both legs as Western Sydney progressed.

Juric then stoked the flames of the rivalry further last week, turning down a 14 million US dollar contract to join Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua, despite initially agreeing to the deal.

Not that Thursday's quarter final needs any more reason to be a thoroughly enticing affair, the aforementioned incidents are sure to add to the atmosphere and the sense of occasion in Brisbane.

But, at the end of the day, one thing is for sure -- both Australia and China have bright football futures ahead.


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