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By ESPN Staff

China coach Zhu upbeat despite disappointing draw

BEIJING, Sept 7 (Reuters) - China coach Zhu Guanghu remained upbeat despite a frustrating goalless draw with Singapore in an Asian Cup qualifier on Wednesday which prompted renewed calls for his dismissal.

Although China had a man sent off and failed to score from open play for a second successive match against Singapore, they still look good to be one of the two qualifiers from their group for next year's finals.

'I'm very satisfied with the 0-0 result,' said Zhu, who was pilloried by fans and media after China needed an injury-time penalty for a 1-0 win over Singapore last month.

'This point is very important. There are two more games. We will definitely get through the qualifiers.

'Everybody wanted to win before the match but we were prepared for a draw and I don't think it will have any bearing on the rest of the qualifying competition.'

The Beijing News parodied the coach's comments on the tame 0-0 draw with the headline 'Wonderful match, key point won', while Beijing-based sports paper the First was more direct with its headline 'Zhu deserves a red card'.

SENT OFF

The Chengdu Ecomonic Daily suggested that China should play their home games in Singapore as nearly half of the crowd on Wednesday had backed the away team and the chants of 'sack the team' familiar from Chinese stadiums were barely heard.

Energie Cottbus midfielder Shao Jiayi, who won and then converted the penalty to beat Singapore in Tianjin earlier this month, was sent off in injury time for two yellow cards and will miss the match against Palestine in Jordan in October.

China, runners-up to Japan in the 2004 Asian Cup, share the lead in group E on seven points with Iraq, who they meet in Changsa in their final qualifier on November 15. Singapore and Palestine both have four points.

The Asian Cup finals will take place in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam from July 7-29, 2007.