China squad revealed for World Cup qualifier with Huang Bowen axed
Hu Zhicheng

China boss Marcello Lippi has included veteran captain Zheng Zhi in his 24-strong squad ahead of Tuesday's World Cup qualifier against Maldives – but there is no place for his Guangzhou Evergrande teammate Huang Bowen.

Now aged 39 and with 108 caps to his name, Zheng is regarded as one of the most experienced players on Lippi's roster.

The charismatic talisman finds himself falling down the pecking order at the seven-time Chinese Super League champions Evergrande, but he is ready to assume his role as a mentor for the national team and help to nurture a new breed of youngsters, with several media outlets revealing how he had his eyes on turning into a assistant coach in the future.

Brazilian-born striker Elkeson, who has changed his name to Ai Kesen after being granted Chinese citizenship, is another notable inclusion as the Evergrande star is expected to become the first footballer without Chinese ancestry to play for Lippi's side.

Ai's fellow naturalized player Li Ke, also known as Nico Yennaris, has kept his place amid speculation the Beijing Guoan midfielder is to be dropped, while Tianjin Tianhai's Yao Junsheng and Shandong Luneng's Hao Junmin also feature.

Guangzhou Evergrande's Huang Bowen has been left out of China coach Marcello Lippi's plans. /VCG Photo

Guangzhou Evergrande's Huang Bowen has been left out of China coach Marcello Lippi's plans. /VCG Photo

The defensive duo of He Guan and Shi Ke make the cut, despite their dip in form for Shanghai SIPG in recent months, while Espanyol's Wu Lei, who struggled to replicate the form that he sensationally showed in La Liga last season, gets the nod.

Lippi, however, has chosen not include Huang in his final squad, as he culled the group from an initial pool of 26, with Jiangsu Suning's Xie Pengfei the other casualty from his original squad announcement.

The 24-man squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Yan Junling, Wang Dalei, Zhang Lu

Defenders: Zhang Linpeng, Wang Gang, Zhu Chenjie, He Guan, Gao Zhunyi, Li Lei, Li Shuai, Shi Ke

Midfielders: Zheng Zhi, Wu Xi, Hao Junmin, Chi Zhongguo, Xu Xin, Li Ke, Yao Junsheng

Forwards: Wu Lei, Ai Kesen, Yang Liyu, Wei Shihao, Yang Xu, Zhang Xizhe