Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Brisbane: China coach Alain Perrin said a lapse in concentration cost his team the AFC Asian Cup quarter-final against Australia on Thursday.
Following the 2-0 defeat to the Socceroos in which Tim Cahill scored both goals in the second half at Brisbane Stadium, Perrin pointed to the way China defended the Australian striker's first in the 49th minute.
Cahill and Zheng Zhi collided in the air after a corner, a clash that took out the Chinese skipper and gave Cahill the space to execute his overhead kick. With no cover for Zheng while he was floored, the Australian finished in brilliant fashion.
Perrin made it clear that was inexcusable, saying his team must learn to be attentive at all times.
"Even if you lose concentration for one second, you pay the price," said Perrin. "Before Cahill scored his first goal, one of our players fell to the ground and that virtually cost us the game.
"After the Australian team scored first, their self-confidence grew and that made our situation even more difficult."
While Perrin was visibly and naturally upset with the result, he was not unhappy with the effort from his players who took China back into the quarter-finals for the first time since the 2004 competition which they hosted.
Contrary to pre-tournament predictions by many, Perrin's men won all three matches in the first round to top their group over Qatar 2011 semi-finalists Uzbekistan and three-time champions Saudi Arabia.
China stifled Australia in the first half on Thursday and had they netted while the hosts were still unsettled during the opening half-hour, the match could have unfolded very differently.
The next stop for Perrin and China will be the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
"My players are very disappointed," said the Frenchman. "Because we lost tonight, our Asian Cup journey is now over. It's disappointing because we had high hopes for ourselves here.
"After we finished the group stage, we had to rethink how we play. I have different tactics for different opponents, and I pick the fittest players and ones who want to fight.
"I don't think conceding was the (whole) problem. The problem was that we could not find a way to equalise and how we played the opposition once they scored first. Australia played well, and my team did their best."