China faced more soccer woe on Wednesday as they were beaten 3-2 by Syria in their opening 2011 Asian Cup qualifier with captain Maher al Sayed scoring two of the goals.
China’s caretaker coach Yin Tieshing had been hoping for some sort of revival in his country’s fortunes after crashing out of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers last June but they were already 3-0 down by half-time.
Two of Syria’s goals came from the penalty spot with the inspirational al Sayed converting the first of them in the sixth minute when Du Wei brought down Ali Diab.
Al Sayed was ruling the roost and it was no surprise when he added to his tally in the 24th minute with a shot from outside the area that beat Song Zhenyu all hands up.
Du’s nightmare first-half performance reached its nadir in the 39th minute as he clumsily brought down Raja Rafe and the referee had no option but to point to the spot — Firas al Khatib converting to give the Syrians what seemed an unassailable lead.
The Chinese didn’t give up the ghost completely with Wang Xiao’s freekick two minutes after the restart being well saved by Syrian goalkeeper Radwan al Azhar.
However they did hit the back of the net four minutes later as Qu Bo rifled the ball home after good work by Jaing Ning and they were to get a late consolation effort when al Azhar completely misjudged Liu Jian’s cross and it went into the net.
“I’m satisfied with the result but the performance was not convincing,” Syria coach Fajr Ibrahim said. “Especially because we had a 3-0 lead.”
Syria’s neighbors Lebanon fared less well as they crashed 3-1 away to ASEAN champions Vietnam even though the 2007 Asian Cup quarter-finalists were reduced to 10 men shortly after the beginning of the second-half when the scorer of their second goal Le Cong Vinh was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
In another match Singapore hardly lived up to their nickname of the Lions as they were walloped 6-0 in Tehran — their cause hardly helped when Ismail Nunos was sent off shortly before half-time.
Indeed Iran scored five of their goals following his dismissal for a straight red card with Mohammed Nouri scoring two.
“The players are getting better and better in terms of tactics and organization,” Iran coach Ali Daei told reporters.
“They are young but they will do good things. I told the players to use this as preparation for more important matches,” he said.
The day’s final game saw Jordan fail to score for the third game in succession as they drew 0-0 with Thailand — coached by former Leeds United and Everton manager Peter Reid — at home to extend their winless streak to five.
The visitors could have collected all three points but Teerasil Dangda and Sutee Suksomkit squandered good scoring chances.