China calls up 3 foreign-born players for the first time

National team is set to play friendly matches against Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG. (Reuters pic)

BEIJING: China has included three naturalised players in the national squad for the first time as coach Li Tie has gathered the side in Shanghai for training.

Titan Sports reported Brazilian-born Elkeson and Aloisio, and former Arsenal player Nico Yennaris, who was born in England, joined the camp as China begin preparations for 2022 World Cup qualifiers postponed in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Elkeson was the first player of non-Chinese heritage to be called up when he played last year while Yennaris, who played for England’s youth teams, has a Chinese mother and accepted citizenship last year.

Another Brazilian-born player, Alan Carvalho, was also in Tie’s plans but the 30-year-old forward is waiting for travel restrictions to be eased before he can leave Brazil and return to China.

Former Everton midfielder Li replaced Marcello Lippi as head coach earlier this year when the Italian quit following a surprise loss to Syria in a World Cup qualifying match in November.

The national team is set to play two friendly matches against Chinese Super League (CSL) teams Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG.

The CSL, which was scheduled to start on Feb 22, was pushed back because of the novel coronavirus outbreak and could kick off in late June.