After weeks of preparation and no shortage of words from either camp, China will finally play Australia at 2 pm today at Tuodong Stadium in a must-win World Cup qualifier that is expected to be fiercely contested.
There will be many variables at play today – Kunming's altitude, an Australian side coping with several injured players and a fervent Chinese crowd that could end up turning on their own players should the Socceroos manage to build an early lead.
Although Australia is generally considered the stronger team, it has suffered untimely injuries to star players including Bruce Djite, Scott McDonald, Mile Sterjovski, Tim Cahill, Brett Emerton and Josh Kennedy. Even Aussie coach Pim Verbeek is on the ropes, suffering from stomach problems that interrupted a press conference earlier this week.
After drawing with Iraq, China needs a win today if it wants to keep its hopes alive of participating in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. China is also dealing with its own injuries - strikers Dong Fangzhou and Shi Jun will not be playing today.
Regardless of how the match ends up, it is providing Kunming with a rare taste of international soccer and an excuse to take the afternoon off. There are a couple of match-related events planned for today:
Pre-match party: Chapter One on Wenlin Jie will be holding a pre-match party beginning at 10:30 am today, with free snacks and one half-price drink for all ticketholders.
Post-match party: Socceroos supporters have organized a party for after the match at the Fisherman's Bar in Kunming Zoulang on Renmin Zhong Lu, featuring select beers on discount for 12 yuan as well as Kunming's largest selection of Aussie beers including Coopers and VB.© Copyright 2005-2018 GoKunming.com all rights reserved. This material may not be republished, rewritten or redistributed without permission.