BRISBANE, Australia: If China go far in this Asian Cup, they may have a 12-year-old ball boy to thank.
Unassuming Brisbanite Stephan White has been hailed in China after helping goalkeeper Wang Dalei save a crucial penalty in the 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia.
As Naif Hazazi lined up his kick, Wang asked White which way to dive. The ball boy answered “left”, Wang followed his advice and saved the spot-kick with his legs.
After Wang’s vital stop, China scored through Yu Hai’s free-kick to claim a priceless opening Group B win.
The grateful Chinese team rewarded White by inviting him to train with them ahead of their second match against Uzbekistan in Brisbane on Wednesday.
Superstitious Chinese fans had believed they were set for a win after the Saudis left two balls behind at a pre-match training session.
“It means China will defeat Saudi Arabia 2-0 on Saturday,” one Internet user posted. But eventually it was a ball boy, rather than balls, that brought them luck.