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China Faces Gloomy World Cup Prospect after Goalless Draw

In a qualification match for 2018 FIFA Russia World Cup, Team China drew with Team Hong Kong of China in a goalless match which will likely to see the former fail to enter the top stage of world football for the fourth time in a row.

After hitting the woodwork and posts for several times and a controversial goal from striker Yu Dabao was denied, China is left with a slim hope of entering the next round of Asian section of World Cup Qualifiers only by securing the second place in Group C which also features Qatar. Qatar is almost sure of a place in the next round after winning all six games.

Historically, China has a mental advantage over China's Hong Kong, winning three games in a total of seven clashes with Hong Kong, China, in World Cup qualifiers. But its notorious loss to Hong Kong, China, on May 19, 1985 saw China eliminated from group stage of qualifiers for 1986 Mexico World Cup, leading to fans riots outside the Workers' Stadium.

The match was held at Mong Kow Stadium in Hong Kong on Tuesday evening. With six naturalized players in the line-up, China's Hong Kong led China by three points before the match with one more game played.

Before the game, a silent tribute was paid to those died in terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday. After the game kicked off, China took possession of the ball for most time but failed to create enough opportunities in the box area, with China's Hong Kong playing counter-attack tactics. The half-time rest saw the two teams hitting woodwork for once separately.

In the second half, China kept pressing on China's Hong Kong in the last-third area, and created some chances, with the best one coming at the 78th minute--left wing Yu Hai crossed the ball into the penalty area for center forward Yang Xu to head the ball back to fellow striker Yu Dabao, whose first shot was saved by the keeper and the following shot hitting the post and deflecting to the keeper who saved it from behind the goal-line. Without goal-line technology, the referee did not allow the goal.

After the controversial moment, China went on to the attack but failed to score in the remaining time. After the referee blew the final whistle, China now faces the bitter prospect of yet again being eliminated from World Cup qualifiers at an early stage.

According to the rules of World Cup Qualifiers Asian section, teams with most points in the eight groups, along with four runner-ups with better results, qualified for the third round. And in the third round, teams are divided into two groups, with the first and second in each group going through to the World Cup; the winner of the match between the two third placed sides goes into the play-offs involving North, Central American and Caribbean area teams.

( November 17, 2015)

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