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AFC Under 23 Championship kicks off in Changzhou
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China beats Oman 3-0 in curtain-raiser of AFC U23 Championship

Wei Shihao scored one, provided an assist and involved in the other goal to lead China to a convincing 3-0 victory over Oman in the opener of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under 23 Championship in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, on Tuesday afternoon.

It also marked the first victory for China in the biennial continental tournament since its inauguration in 2014.

In the 30th minute, the 22-year-old Wei sent the ball with a whimsical back kick in the left wing before Li Shuai rushed down the flank and found Yang Liyu in front of the goalmouth who then slammed the ball into the deep net.

Four minutes later, Wei who was recruited into the Chinese national team just in 2017, ran down towards the goal line from the flank, then sent the ball backward to find Li Xiaoming who netted his header for a 2-0 advantage for the hosts.

After the break, Wei also put down his name on the scorers list with a header in the 53rd minute from a front court pass by Yang Junsheng, before he was substituted in the 66th minute with minor injuries.

"Wei Shihao is one of our players with good skills, and we're satisfied with his performance tonight," said Massimiliano Maddaloni, head coach of the Chinese U23 team, "he felt a little bit pain from a kick on the field, but it wasn't a big deal, and he will be fully recovered soon."

Wei, born on April 8, 1995, joined the Boavista club of Portugal in 2013, and played for several Portuguese teams during the following years. In December, 2017, he made his debut for the national team with a goal to help China tie South Korea 2-2 in the recently-concluded East Asia Cup.

"Our players have matured enough as a team, we can play against any rivals, and we're not afraid of anyone," said the Italian manager, "(but) there are still two more games for us in the group, and we'll take them calmly and seriously."

In group A of the Championship, China will play Uzbekistan on Jan 12, and face Qatar on Jan 15.

For his part, Oman head coach Hamed Khalifa Al'Azani, said that "Wei Shihao is surely the best player in the Chinese team."

"After losing the first game, we must fight for the six points in the last two group games to show our strength," Al'Azani said, adding that "it's not an excuse for the cold weather (minus 3 degrees Celsius). Players are still very young, and that's what they have to pay for it." 

The U23 Championship features 16 teams in four groups, running from Jan. 9 to 27 in four cities of Jiangsu province. The best two teams from each group will advance to the quarterfinals, with the final slated for Jan. 27 in Changzhou. 

 
Sponsored by: General Office and Foreign Affairs Office of Changzhou Municipal People’s Government
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