KUNMING, China (AP) – China overcame a half-time deficit to beat Singapore 2-1 in their World Cup qualifier on Friday, giving new coach Jose Antonio Camacho a win in his first competitive game in charge.
China had to wait until the 69th minute to equalize, when Zheng Zhi scored from the penalty spot, and winger Yu Hai scored what proved the winner in the 73rd minute.
Yu said he could feel that Camacho's coaching was very strong and courageous during the game, overcoming stressful situations, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
The former Spain coach is tasked with rapidly improving China's poor standing in the world's most popular sport. China has only qualified for the World Cup once, in 2002, and is currently ranked 69th in the world.
The 56-year-old former Real Madrid defender said qualifying for 2014 ''won't be an easy task, but my team and I are working towards this goal.''
China had won seven of the previous nine meetings between the countries.
The other two teams in Group A, Iraq and Jordan, play later Friday, with the top two teams advancing to the next round.
Camacho played more than 80 times for Spain, including in two World Cups. He also managed Spain's national team for four years, reaching the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup.
China now travels to Jordan for their next group game on Wednesday, while Singapore will be host to Iraq.