PATTAYA, Thailand, March 17 (Xinhua) -- China beat Lebanon 4-1 with a strong comeback in the first group match at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Beach Soccer Asian Cup 2023 here on Friday.
China found themselves in a difficult position in the eighth minute when Wang Cunde was given a red card and Lebanon opened the scoresheet from the subsequent free kick.
Chinese captain Liu Yisi was sent off a minute later in another blow for his team.
Both teams hit the woodwork several times but the score remained unchanged until China's Cao Weiming tied the match, before Li Yueming's header in the 31st minute gave China the lead.
With the match totally under control against the depleted Lebanese side, Liu Haoran added another two goals, including an overhead kick, to seal the victory for China.
Chinese head coach Marcelo Mendes believes that teamwork was crucial for the comeback after losing two key players due to red cards.
"We were confident going into this game, and we finished coming back from a 0-1 lead to score four goals in the third period, which will boost our confidence in achieving our target to go to the next round," Mendes told a post-match press conference.
After securing the first victory in the group stage, China will face defending champions Japan on Sunday in Thailand's eastern resort city of Pattaya.
"We will have a very difficult match against Japan without two key players, but we are going to fight again," said Mendes.
With a total of 16 teams, the AFC Beach Soccer Asian Cup 2023 also serves as the qualifiers for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2023, which is scheduled to be played in November.