We can't even beat S'pore, I quit: Chinese football team captain after 2-2 World Cup qualifiers match

The Chinese team captain, Zhang Linpeng, said he finds the outcome "humiliating".

Kerr Puay Hian | March 22, 2024, 12:30 PM



While Singaporeans cheered on the Lions' 2-2 draw against China during the World Cup 2026 qualifiers on Mar. 21, 2024 at the National Stadium, the mood from the other side of the pitch was not as celebratory.

In particular, the Chinese football team's captain, Zhang Linpeng, has decided to quit the national team.

After the match, during a doorstop with the media, he said, "I thought about it for a long while. I think it's time to end my national team career."

As Zhang was visibly upset, a Chinese reporter asked if he was just being emotional.

Zhang replied:

"We couldn't even defeat the Singapore team. I think it's unacceptable, and I find it humiliating."

What the Chinese thought about their teams' performance

While Singaporeans praised the Lions' performance, Chinese online commenters found the Chinese team "disappointing".

A comment carried by the Chinese state newspaper Beijing Daily attributed the loss to various mistakes made by the Chinese team's players, which persisted after Wu Lei missed a penalty at the 31st minute.

The commentary characterised Wu Lei's failure to widen the lead as a "mistake".

However, in actual fact, it was a glorious save made by Lions keeper Hassan Sunny.

The Chinese commentary went on to describe the Lions' first second-half goal by substitute Faris Ramli as an "extremely lucky shot" and claimed that the Chinese team's morale went down after that.

Another Lions substitute, Jacob Mahler, scored at the 81st minute.

The piece then questioned the Chinese team's substitution decisions and said it was, again, "lucky" that the Chinese team did not lose.

New coaches rated differently

The match saw the debut of head coaches from both sides — Tsutomu Ogura for the Lions and Branko Ivankovic for the Chinese team.

While some Singaporeans attributed the Lions' performance to Ogura, the Chinese commentary refrained from commenting on Ivankovic, explaining that the new Chinese team head coach "didn't have enough time" as it was "merely 10 days" since he took over the team.

Chinese team captain's thoughts

Zhang also candidly admitted that the Chinese team made many mistakes.

In the interview, he said: "There were indeed many problems. Firstly, as team captain, I didn't manage to change the team, disappointing the fans."

He further explained:

"We kept trying to follow the coach's instructions to play the match, but there were many problems during the match, and when problems happened, the way we handled them was unacceptable to me."

Singapore faces China again on away ground on Mar. 26, 2024.

Top image via Sohu & Mothership