Chinese footballers get warm welcome despite Asian Cup exit
Beijing, Jan 24 (IANS) The Chinese football team received a warm welcome at Beijing International Airport early Saturday morning on their return home after their quarterfinal loss in the Asian Cup.
China qualified for the knock-out stage for the first time since 2004 but failed to carry on their fairy-tale run, losing to hosts Australia 0-2 in the quarter-final, reports Xinhua.
The team beat Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and North Korea in the four-team group stage.
In contrast to bad feedbacks after their previous defeats, fans reacted with praises and encouragements. It was a touching moment when players saw a huge throng of fans waiting in the airport lobby, some of whom stayed there overnight in order not to miss the team.
"It is so moving to see so many fans welcome us. I hope I will see such scenes every time the team return home," said Yu Hai, who scored the winner in China's 1-0 opening win over Saudi Arabia.
Defender Zhang Linpeng was chased by supporters for photos and autographs.
"We have spared no effort, although we didn't make it to the semi-finals," said Zhang. "We have created many wonderful records. We are young and still have a long way to go."