China, Japan need to chalk up points
CHINA are hoping to reproduce the form that gave South Korea palpitations last week as they take on heavyweights Iran in another big World Cup qualifying test today.
China fought back from 3-0 down to make it 3-2 with 14 minutes left in Seoul, ensuring a tense finale to a game which South Korea had looked like wrapping up with ease.
While China started the final round of Asian qualifying with a defeat, they are taking heart from the performance ahead of today's home game against Iran in Shenyang.
"I don't think we have much pressure," said Guangzhou Evergrande midfielder Huang Bowen, according to the Global Times. "I just hope we can play the way we did in the last 15 minutes against South Korea."
China are bidding to reach only the second World Cup in their history in a tough Group A which also brackets 2022 hosts Qatar, Uzbekistan and Syria.
They are not the only team needing a positive result with Japan, still smarting from a disallowed goal in their 2-1 defeat to UAE, facing a tricky away trip to Thailand.
The top two teams from both the six-strong Asian groups will earn spots at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, while the third-placed teams go into a play-off series.
"Iran are stronger than us," said Huang. "But we are playing at home so I hope we can deliver."