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Zhang Linpeng: China captain's retirement U-turn after 'disgraceful' draw in World Cup qualifier

Zhang Linpeng kicks the ball
Zhang Linpeng made his debut for China in 2009

China captain Zhang Linpeng has reversed his decision to retire from international football following a draw against Singapore that he labelled "disgraceful".

China threw away a two-goal lead to be held 2-2 by Singapore in Kallang.

Zhang said Thursday's result in 2026 World Cup qualifying was "unacceptable" and announced his intention to retire.

The 34-year-old has since retracted that statement "after two days of serious contemplation".

He said he realised "retirement is not the only option".

Speaking on state broadcaster China Central Television's programme Soccer Night, Zhang said: "Whether as a starter or a substitute, or even if I can't play, as long as I can contribute to the national team; as long as the country still needs me, I will give my all and persevere to the end."

Defender Zhang, who plays domestic football with Chinese Super League club Shanghai Port, has won 105 caps with China.

South Korea are top of qualifying group C, with second-placed Thailand and third-placed China separated only by goal difference, while Singapore are bottom. The top two advance to the final stage of qualifying.

China's bid to qualify for the 2026 World Cup continues on Tuesday when they host Singapore in Tianjin.