Beijing (China), August 24: China will take a 33-person squad to Doha as they have to be braced for the possibility of playing four consecutive FIFA World Cup qualifiers abroad, said a Chinese Football Association official.
Due to domestic pandemic prevention and control, China moved its home World Cup qualifier against Japan to Qatar.
The Chinese side will first face Australia away on September 2 in Doha before meeting Japan as hosts five days later.
China has to prepare themselves to play more World Cup qualifiers abroad, according to CFA press official Dai Xiaowei.
"We will try to play our home games at home from October, but if we can't because of the pandemic, we need to play them in West Asia," he said.
"We must make preparations for that possibility of playing four World Cup qualifiers in a row abroad, so we will reserve as many players as we can," he said.
Chinese team head coach Li Tie, who has extended his contract with the Chinese Football Association to 2026, said Sunday, four days before his team heads for Doha, that he had prepared enough tea for himself to consume for three months.
"I have made preparations for being unable to return to China for three months," he said.
He asked his players to be ready for that situation too.
"I have told the players that if any of them cannot bear it, they should tell me now," he said.
"I will support whatever decisions they make now, but they cannot tell me that they cannot stand it in the heat of our qualification campaign," the Chinese coach said.
China has been drawn against Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Oman in the final round of the Asian Zone qualifying tournament, which will be played in a home-and-away round-robin format. The top two of the group will qualify directly, and the third finisher will enter play-offs.