China got off to the perfect start when four minutes in midfielder Gao Junmin took a pass into the area and breezed past defender Robert Huth to score with an angled shot past Robert Enke in the away goal.
But the euphoria did not last long, Bayern Munich’s Bastian Schweinsteiger playing in the unmarked Lukas Podolski, who fired home the equaliser two minutes later.
“We wanted to play the strategy laid out by the coaches, we wanted to play hard and build up our confidence,” an elated Gao Junmin said after the match. “We came here to learn from the Germans.”
With big name stars Michael Ballack and Miroslav Klose at home, German coach Joachim Löw had hoped their absences would give one of his newcomers an opportunity to shine during the national team’s Asian tour.
As it was, China played on the break, packing the defence and with just one up front, and in the event restricted the Germans to few chances. Indeed, the best opportunities went to the hosts. In the 36th minute, left-back Cao Yang saw his perfect cross to Gao Lin wasted.
China continued to create chances, with Enke saving a long-range shot by midfielder Jiang Ning in the 72nd minute, and just tipping a blast from Zhou Haining over the bar moments later. Germany’s best chance fell to Schweinsteiger, but he failed to capitalise on an open net in the 83rd minute.
The draw was a more than satisfactory start for China’s new coach Gao Hongbo, who was named head of national team earlier this month in the hope he can improve a side which has been dismal in recent years.
The former striker, China’s seventh head coach since 2000 and youngest ever at age 44, takes over a team that has fallen to 97th in the FIFA world rankings, behind Iceland but just ahead of Sierra Leone.