Updated 8:47 AM EST, Fri, Mar 05, 2021

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China Football: Gao Hongbo Thinks Chinese Super League is Taking a Toll on China's National Team Players

China PR head coach Gao Hongbo

(Photo : Getty Images) Gao Hongbo claims that the schedule of Chinese Super League matches may be affecting the fatigue levels of Chinese players.

Chinese national football team head coach Gao Hongbo recently expressed his concern that the schedule of Chinese Super League matches may be affecting the fatigue and readiness of his players.

"As the coach of the national team, the first three or four days of training are always a headache for me," said Gao. "The players are exhausted, not only physically but also mentally."

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Team Dragon is set to compete in the 2018 FIFA World Cup AFC qualifying tournament on Oct. 6 against Syria at the Shaanxi Province Stadium before going on a road game versus Uzbekistan at the Bunyodkor Stadium in Tashkent on Oct. 11.

The two games are crucial for China to advance in the 2018 tournament in Russia. However, Gao has opted to drop Guangzhou Evergrande team captain Zheng Zhi from his 24-man roster for the said tourney.

Gao said fatigue from the demands of the China top-flight competitions is affecting the country's national team players, and so he decided to leave out Zheng at this point.

Guangzhou Evergrande is on the brink of winning its sixth straight CSL title with only four rounds left in the first division domestic league, and Zheng has been one of the key players for head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

"We still have four rounds of the Chinese Super League to go. Over the entire season, players from Evergrande, Shanghai SIPG or Shandong will have played almost 50 games," Gao said. "And considering we are in China, it is a big country and the traveling is long and energy-consuming. They are all in very bad shape. So the two games in October, and even the one in November, will be extremely difficult for us."

Meanwhile, another Evergrande player and national team mainstay defender Li Xuepeng has had to withdraw from the World Cup qualifiers because of injury, which means the squad is only 23-strong at the moment.

At the moment, it is unclear whether further players will be called up or the team will head into the competition short of one man on their roster.

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