China’s U20 National Youth Team made it out of the group stage of the U20 Asian Cup in Uzbekistan and made it to the last eight. But the final game against Kyrgyzstan had its nervy moments. As captain, Afrden Asqer played an active role in all four of team’s goals in the tournament. In an interview after the end of the group stage games, Asqer said that the team will work hard towards the quarter-finals, but it is more important to see that all teams in Asia are improving.
Q: The Chinese National Youth Team deserves congratulations for finally making it to the last eight. How did you feel at the moment of getting out of the tournament?
Afrden Asqer: Of course I was happy, delighted, even ecstatic. Regardless of the outcome of what happens next, we are one step closer to our goal as we have reached the last eight in Asia.
Q: What is your goal?
Asqer: Our goal is actually very simple, to make it to the World Youth Cup. We didn’t say it until the U20 Asian Cup started, but now we can say it out loud – to make it to the World Youth Cup.
Q: It’s certainly pleasing to have the team out of the tournament, but looking back at the last game against Kyrgyzstan, it felt as if they didn’t play as well as they did in the first two games.
Asqer: I’ve seen a lot of comments saying we didn’t play well. It’s true that we didn’t play very well, but in fact, this game was not the same as the outside world thought that we were stubborn, it was just not a good game at all. Kyrgyzstan is not a weak opponent at all, they are a very tough team. We played against them in the first half because we were not familiar with their style of play and it was not quite what we expected, so we were a bit helpless on the field. By the time we adjusted in the second half, we were in a much better position and took the lead. However, they came back hard in the final stages. But anyway, we got out of the group and that’s all that matters. After the result, we can take our time to reflect on what happen. If we hadn’t got out of the group, it might have been a different story.
Q: You were substituted at the end of the game, was it because of injury? What’s the situation now?
Aifeldin: Yes, I came off because I broke my right foot slightly when I was breaking through with the ball in front of me.
Q: What is your biggest feeling or experience after finishing the group stage?
Asqer: Asian teams are not easy to play! My biggest feeling after the three group games is that all the teams in Asia are improving and improving at a fast pace, we have to pick up our pace and hopefully we can catch up with these Asian teams. If we still look at Asian football with the same eyes as before, we will fall even further behind.
Q: In the next match, the quarter-finals, we will meet our old rivals South Korea. What do you think?
Asqer: I think we will just have to take our time and try to fight our way to play. There’s no other way to say we’re going to win, as we did with Japan and Saudi Arabia, but we’ll have to take it step by step. We now have a place in the last eight, and the next step is to fight for a place in the last four, to realise our dream and hopefully make our fans across the country happy.