China defeats Qantas Under 23s

The Qantas Under 23 have gone down to China PR Under 23s 0-1 in Changchun, China, in the first of three pre-Olympic Games warm up matches for the Australian Olympic Team.

The Qantas Under 23 have gone down to China PR Under 23s 0-1 in Changchun, China, in the first of three pre-Olympic Games warm up matches for the Australian Olympic Team.

A second half goal to Chinese substitute Zhao Xuri was the difference between the two teams.

Xuri found himself unmarked on the penalty spot in the 78th minute when he received the ball following a goal mouth scramble. Xuir was able to place his shot neatly inside the post, giving Qantas Under 23s goalkeeper Tando Velaphi little chance of saving.

The match began in warm and humid conditions with China having the early advantage. Chinese striker Han Peng having the host-s first attempt on goal in the 18th minute, but his shot flew over the crossbar.

The Qantas Under 23s defence led by Mark Milligan defused much of the early pressure and came back into the game midway through the half to take the upper-hand. A number of free-kicks for the Qantas Under 23s around the China penalty box created many problems.

But just before half-time, a Qantas Under 23s defensive error was pounced on by Zhou Haibin who laid off a pass to Gao Lin in the box who went up against Tando Velaphi. Lin-s ensuing shot was well-saved by Velaphi, who got down well and pushed the the ball wide of the post to send the teams into the break scoreless.

The second half began with China having an early chance with a free-kick in just outside the box in the middle of the field. With every Qantas Under 23 player behind the ball, China captain Zheng Zhi hit his shot narrowly over the crossbar.

Both teams then traded scoring opportunities with Ruben Zadkovich coming the closest for the Qantas Under 23s in the 54th minute with a header at the far post which was well saved by Qiu Shangjong in the China goal.

After coming on as a substitute for Kristian Sarkies in the 57th minute, Nikita Rukavytsya caused many problems for the Chinese defence with his pace upfront. A break-away by Rukavytsya in the 75th minute the best of his opportunities to score.

China responded well with a break down the right which resulted in a well placed cross. The Qantas Under 23s tried to clear, but the ball landed at the feet of Zhao Xuri who made no mistake with his effort.

China could have doubled their lead shortly after when Dong Fangzhou beat three defenders at the edge of the box but was expertly denied by some fine goalkeeping by Tando Velaphi.

Mark Bridge came the closest to equalising just before full-time with a stinging shot from the edge of the box which brought a save out of Qiu Shengjong to ensure that the host nation took the win.

Following the match, Qantas Under 23s Head Coach Graham Arnold was disappointed with the final result, but happy with the commitment of his players.

“You never like to lose a match, but there were plenty of positives for us and also plenty of things to work on in the lead up to the Olympics.

“Of course we can play much better, but we have done some pretty heaving travelling to get to this game and as a result fatigue may have been a factor.

“The purpose of these matches was to get acclimatised to the conditions that we are likely to face in Shanghai for our opening match.

“As host nation, China has had a good preparation leading into the match and I expect them to go well in the tournament.

“I didn-t start a few players, Jade North and Archie Thompson included, to ensure that they are fresh for the whole campaign. We expect both Jade and Archie start against Japan on Thursday,” concluded Arnold.

The only injury concern for the Qantas Under 23s occurred midway through the first half when Matthew Spiranovic received a mild concussion in a challenge. Spiranovic was substituted at half time as a precautionary measure and the team medical staff will monitor his condition.

The Qantas Under 23s will now travel to Kobe, Japan, where they will face the Japan Under 23 National team at the Home-s Stadium on Thursday 24 July (Kick-off 8:00pm AEST).

Match Details

China PR Under 23s 1 (Zhao Xuri 78-) Qantas Under 23s 0

Saturday 12 July 2008 Changchun City Stadium, Changchun, China

Referee: Tao Rancheng (China) Assistant Referees: Ma Guoxin (China) & Shi Zhenlu (China) Fourth Official: Sun Lei (China) Crowd: 10,000 (approx)

Qantas Under 23s line-up: 18.Tando Velaphi (gk); 3.Adrian Leijer (21.James Holland 80-), 5.Mark Milligan (C), 6.Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 7.Kristian Sarkies (14.Nikita Rukavytsya 57-), 8.Mark Bridge, 11.James Troisi (17.Billy Celeski 71-), 12.Matthew Spiranovic (4.Stuart Musialik 46-), 13.Trent McLenahan, 15.Ruben Zadkovich, 27.Neil Kilkenny

Substitutes Not Used: 1.Chris O-Connor (gk), 2.Jade North, 10.Archie Thompson, 19.Matt Simon, 20.Nigel Boogaard, 22.Leigh Broxham

Cautions: Adrian Leijer (51-)