Sun, Jan 18, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Baby joy has goalkeeper Wang in good spirits

AFP, CANBERRA

China goalkeeper Wang Dalei acknowledges supporters as they celebrate the team’s win over Uzbekistan at the Brisbane Stadium in Australia on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters

Life could hardly get any better for goalkeeper Wang Dalei, who saved a vital penalty on his birthday and then welcomed the birth of his daughter as China shocked Uzbekistan.

Wang, once plagued by controversy, has enjoyed nothing but good fortune in Australia as Alain Perrin’s China have romped to their first Asian Cup quarter-final in 11 years.

Tattooed Wang enjoyed a huge stroke of luck in the 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia when, on the advice of a 12-year-old ballboy, he dived the right way to save Naif Hazazi’s penalty shot.

And the stars realigned for Wang on Wednesday when China’s 2-1 comeback victory over Uzbekistan coincided with the birth of his daughter.

“My daughter was due on the 13th, but she was born on the day of the match, Wang told reporters in Canberra. “The victory was a great birthday gift for her.”

The 26-year-old Shandong Luneng stopper is enjoying the tournament of his life, but things have not always been so smooth.

In 2010, he was forced into a grovelling apology and suspended for calling supporters “dogs” and “morons” after China’s defeat to Japan at the Asian Games in Guangzhou.

Wang said he hoped Brisbane ballboy Stephan White, who was hailed as a hero in China and invited to their game against Uzbekistan, would also be at their final Group B match against North Korea today.

“I saw him sitting in the stands with his mother at the Uzbekistan game,” Wang said. “I hope he can come to the next match, because he is very lucky for us.”

French coach Alain Perrin promised champagne corks would be popping following the Uzbek win, which gave China their best start to an Asian Cup in 27 years.

However, Wang suggested that the strongest thing he drank was jasmine tea.

“We just celebrated in a simple Chinese way and didn’t drink any alcohol, because there are still matches to play,” he said.

China, who have never won the Asian Cup, but now take on the role of dark horses, face neighbors North Korea in Canberra with top spot in the group already guaranteed.

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