Sun, 16 May 2021

By sportswriters Liu Yang and Oliver Trust

BERLIN, April 22 (Xinhua) -- SC Freiburg striker Nils Petersen predicts a bright future for Asian football.

"There is not much missing before an Asian team can go very far at the World Cup," the 2016 Olympic silver medal winner told Xinhua in an interview.

The 32-year-old said Asian teams have already achieved some success at major tournaments. "But I am curious to see if a team can win a tournament in the long run. I have faith in them," the forward said.

Petersen said he witnessed the significant progress of Asian football when on a promotion tour with Werder Bremen in China some years ago.

"I saw that Asian football is very advanced," the 1.88-meter-tall attacker added.

Asian footballers will soon establish themselves worldwide and play at a high level, he said. He has played together with Chinese player Shao Jiayi for Cottbus in the second division in Germany.

The Freiburg striker said Shao "was very disciplined and inquisitive." He mentioned that Shao quickly integrated and learned the German language.

Petersen called it vital to adopt the country's culture when playing abroad. "At Freiburg, we have two South Korean players who are very strong and smartly acting on the pitch," he stated.

Playing against South Korea at the Brazil Olympics "was a game on equal terms."

He also called to increase the education of box-strikers in Germany "as we see goals of a box-striker such as Robert Lewandowski can lead a team to win titles." Internationally successful sides all count on the achievements of a striker, he said.

"Unfortunately, we have too few of those in Germany, and that's why we fall back on the 'false 9.'"

Regarding the delayed 2020 European Championship run from June 11 to July 11 this year, he regards France, Spain, and England as the favorites.

He called it difficult for Germany to challenge Europe's leading teams. "They are good in tournaments, so you always have to keep them in mind."

Twice capped for the German A-team, Petersen has no plans to possibly return despite being the most consistent German striker in the Bundesliga (7 goals/1 assists), "as there are many gifted young players around."

Petersen is also hoping for the return of fans. "To secure people's health is the primary task, but games behind closed doors are very tough for all," he said.

He is also in favor of allowing fans to return for the Euro. He said there is no equivalent to international experience for players as he benefitted from his time at Bayern Munich and the incredible experience of the Olympic Games.

Petersen, who is with Freiburg for seven years now, is considering staying until his career ends.

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