China will be looking to guarantee a spot in the knockout stages when they face Qatar on Monday. The current hosts secured their spot in the knockout stage with a 1-0 victory against Tajikistan. The Chinese were held to a 0-0 tie with Lebanon.
Preview (Qatar vs. China)
Tintin Marquez can relax knowing that Qatar will advance to the Asian Cup knockout stage for a second consecutive year now that he has accomplished his first task in this competition. They can finish this phase with a perfect record for a second straight time. It will be the first time in their Asian Cup history that they advance past the group stage on several occasions. With two clean sheets since the tournament started, Qatar’s defense has been essentially unbeatable. If they keep up this performance on Monday, it will be their second consecutive Asian Cup group stage without giving up a goal.
Their defensive performance in the 2019 Asian Cup is similarly remarkable if you include the knockout round. Qatar has only allowed one goal in their last nine games. Even though they have already secured the top spot in Group A, past Asian Cup performance indicates that even one mistake in the first round does not portend well for the future. Australia (2015) is the only team this century to lose a group match and still win the competition. In their last nine competitive games, Qatar has only allowed one goal in the first half. That came against Afghanistan in a November 2023 World Cup qualifying match. Qatar won 8-1.
On matchday two, the Chinese defense put on yet another strong display. They lacked accuracy in the attacking third and are still winless this year. For the past five competitive games, China has only scored once, demonstrating a persistent lack of quality with this team. If Tajikistan and Lebanon play one another, even a draw could get them into the round of 16. A loss could eliminate them based on other outcomes. China has never finished the Asian Cup group stage without a victory. They have only prevailed in one of their last group matches since 2007 (2-1 against North Korea in 2015). Dragon’s Team has won all of their prior Asian Cup matches against Qatar, and they have only lost once in their last four games (1-0 in 2018).
From matchday one to two, there were five new faces in the Qatar starting eleven: Al-Mahdi Ali Mukhtar, Ro-Ro, Abdulaziz Hatem, Hassan Al-Haydos, and Yusuf Abdurisag were replaced by Bassam Al-Rawi, Tarek Salman, Mostafa Meshaal, Jasmine Gaber, and Ismaeel Mohammad. With his third goal on Wednesday, Akram Afif tied Aymen Hussein of Iraq for the most goals scored in this tournament, and Meshaal Barsham kept a clean sheet for the second day in a row.
Wu Xi made his competitive debut on matchday two, replacing Xu Xin. Xin, Zhang Yuning, and Dai Wai Tsun were the three newcomers in the starting lineup. Wu Xi had not played in the competition since suffering a hamstring injury. Yan Junling made five stops in their second group stage matchup midweek to record his second straight clean sheet in the Asian Cup.
Qatar 1-0 China
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