30k fans to back China against S. Korea in Seoul
CHINA are out to prove that reaching the third round of 2018 World Cup qualifying is no fluke when they take on bogey side South Korea today.
China scraped through, thanks to their shock 2-0 win over Qatar, and the Philippines' 3-2 upset of North Korea on the last day of round two.
It means that China, who boast Asia's most expensive league and whose tycoons are snapping up football assets worldwide, are within shouting distance of the World Cup in Russia.
The top two in each of Asia's two groups of six will qualify for the World Cup.
The third-placed sides will face each other to get into an intercontinental play-off.
China have only ever reached one World Cup, in 2002.
They will need to upset the odds against South Korea, who have reached nine World Cups - and have lost just once to China in the past 30 years. Coach Gao Hongbo said China were taking heart from their women's volleyball team, who upset Serbia to win gold in Rio.
"Everyone in Korean football thinks that within Chinese football, we lack fighting spirit and we give up easily," he said, according to the ESPN FC website.
"But I'm hoping this time we can show an improvement in this area."
Some 30,000 Chinese fans are expected at Seoul World Cup Stadium but South Korea will start as favourites after they breezed through the second round.
"There are no easy teams in the final round," warned South Korea's coach Uli Steilike, according to Yonhap news agency.
"China have recently pulled
up their Fifa rankings and they are a competitive team."