BRISBANE - China coach Alain Perrin is waiting on the fitness of some of his key players before deciding on his lineup for Thursday's Asian Cup quarter-final against hosts Australia.
Despite having already secured top spot in Group B before their final match against North Korea on Sunday, Perrin resisted the temptation to give all his top players a rest, saying it was more important to keep building momentum.
China duly beat North Korea 2-1 but face an anxious over the availability of their captain Zheng Zhi, after the midfielder was withdrawn in the second half with a back injury.
Perrin said he was confident Zheng would be available for the quarter-final but did not want to take any unnecessary risks ahead of the clash at Brisbane's Lang Park.
"Zheng's got a little problem in his back and there were some other important players we didn't let play because of little issues," Perrin told reporters.
"We hope it's not that bad and I hope they recover before the next game."
Zheng's influence was missed as soon he left the pitch with China giving up an own goal to North Korea, although it did not matter in the end as they held on to win.
"Zheng Zhi is a key player and very important as he is an experienced player who helps organise the team," Perrin added.
"After he left the field, we had trouble in our organisation in the middle. It is obvious if you don't have the key players on the pitch, you will have difficulties."