AFC U-23 Championship Preview: Group A


Head Coach: Massimiliano Maddaloni
Player To Watch: Wei Shihao

As hosts, China will be determined to improve their record at the AFC U23 Championship, having not won a single point in their previous two tournament participants. This time around, the squad has enough quality to potentially spring an upset, given that they’ve been slotted into a tricky group. Shanghai SIPG’s Wei Shihao, who was absolutely brilliant in the Chinese Super League last year, will be their main man on the pitch.

China did a terrific job in topping their qualifying group despite already being guaranteed a spot as the host nation. If they are able to replicate that form, they should be a difficult side to beat.

Here’s what head coach Massimiliano Maddaloni had to say: “For us, this tournament is a good chance to play in China in front of our supporters. For the Chinese (senior) national team during the World Cup qualifiers, for every match the stadium was full, and that’s something we want to repeat with the Under-23 team. We’re looking forward to having a full stadium in every match, and the crowd can make it 12 players versus 11.


China U-23 head coach Massimiliano Maddaloni was previously assistant to Marcelo Lippi while he was the boss of Guangzhou Evegrande between 2012 and 2014.