[Analytics] Wolves lead tributes to China Asian Cup comeback win over Thailand as Marcello Lippi is praised by fans


Game has largest media coverage of any involving China so far but not all is positive ahead of quarter-final meeting with Iran. Victory was first in a knockout game for 5,283 days since semi-final of 2004 Asian Cup in Beijing. Jonathan White specially for the South China Morning Post.

Wolverhampton Wanderers unexpectedly led the congratulations to China’s victory over Thailand at the AFC Asian Cup on Sunday night.

The Chinese-owned English Premier League club posted from their official account on football app Dongqiudi, the Chinese-language equivalent of All Football.

Wolves congratulated the Chinese national team for victory before pointing out that they won a China-Thailand game the day before. Fosun-owned Wolves beat King Power-owned Leicester City at Molineux Stadium on Saturday.

In the comments on the Wolves post, many fans urged them to buy the star of the current China team Wu Lei who has been widely linked with a move to the Premier League new boys.

However, comments about Wu elsewhere on social media were not all positive after his contribution to China’s comeback win.

Some blamed the Shanghai SIPG forward for squandering chances with some criticising him for not making the score 5-1, in reference to the 5-1 loss to Thailand in 2015, instead of 2-1.

Most fans are defending him, knowing he was playing with injury, and pointing out that once again China only won with him in the side.

Widespread pessimism has greeted the news that China will play Iran in their quarter-final on Thursday.

Iran have lost just one competitive game – against Spain – since the 2014 World Cup and they have not lost a game at the Asian Cup in 90 minutes since the 1996 edition.

Even state media outlet Xinhua has said China has met expectations by reaching last-eight, but they are very likely to lose to Iran

Some commenters argued that China’s players should be offered huge bonuses to beat Iran before others shot back that national pride should be motivation enough.

There were those who argued that China coach Marcello Lippi had earned his reported 20 million salary and called for him to stay, pointing at a record that He has only lost two games in the 10 he has been in charge.

One was the dead rubber against South Korea on matchday three while the other was in the World Cup qualifiers against their upcoming quarter-final opponents Iran.

Lippi was given due credit – “he is a silver fox rather than an old dog when China win”, explained one Sina Sports commenter – and many of the most liked comments on Dongqiudi are those praising the coach for his substitutions.

Many commenters called on him to stay, asking who else would be interested, with one user responding with a call for Jose Mourinho to take the post.

Mainland media and social media users praised the end to the 5,483-day wait for a knockout win. That was against Iran in the semi-final of the 2004 Asian Cup held in China. That game was won on penalties with a 24-year-old rising star by the name of Zheng Zhi among the scorers in the shoot-out.

Fourteen years on, Zheng proved vital to China’s latest knockout win. He set up Xiao Zhi then sent the ball to Wu Lei, which he passed on to Gao Lin to win the penalty. Zheng is the only player to have played in that game to still be playing in the UAE.

China play Iran at Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium at midnight Friday (Hong Kong time).

Share it

Exclusive: Beyond the Covid-19 world's coverage