Some think Zhang faked an injury

Updated: 2013-02-06 07:50

By Tang Zhe (China Daily)

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A series of tough international games awaits the Chinese team, and its prospects have not been enhanced by disturbing news on the local front.

According to media reports, national player Zhang Linpeng, who plays for Chinese Super League giant Guangzhou Evergrande, pretended to be injured to escape national obligations.

The 23-year-old defender, who underwent surgery on his hip in Italy last November, was twice diagnosed by national team doctors as not having sufficiently recovered and they decreed he was unable to play in the Asian Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

However, shortly after he returned to his club, he played 60 minutes in a friendly against Czech club Sparta Prague, and scored a goal to help his team to a 1-1 draw.

Zhang's performance raised questions about whether he was faking the injury and if his club had asked him to do so. Evergrande, which features 11 national players, has in the past shown unwillingness to allow its stars to join the national team for friendlies.

Liu Yongzhuo, chairman of Evergrande, said the competitiveness of a club friendly was much less than that of an Asian Cup qualifier and the team had Zhang played against Sparta to see how he was recovering from his ailment. Liu said Evergrande would report the player's status to the national team and that the club would not stand in the way of any of its players competing against the Saudis.

(China Daily 02/06/2013 page22)