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Chinese football legends hope for greater role of Xinjiang players

URUMQI, June 14 (Xinhua) -- Several renowned Chinese football veterans have expressed their hopes for Xinjiang's players to play a more significant role in Chinese football.

In the recently-concluded stage of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers, young striker Behram Abduweli delivered an impressive performance, becoming the first player from the region to score a goal for China's national team.

"We've seen more Xinjiang players in various age groups of the national teams, and I believe this is an inspiration for the younger generation," said former Beijing Guoan midfielder Wei Kexing. "I hope more Xinjiang kids will strive to join the national team and bring glory to the country."

"While high-level coaches are still relatively scarce in Xinjiang, I am impressed by the passion for football among the youth. They have excellent physical attributes. If football in Xinjiang develops, it could greatly benefit Chinese football," former national team goalkeeper Shi Lianzhi commented.

This weekend, the newly-established Xinjiang Silk Road Eagles will start their campaign in the fourth division of Chinese football, aiming for promotion.

"There is a deep love for football, but many talented players have moved elsewhere," said former China under-23 coach Shen Xiangfu. "Every place has its unique characteristics, and I am eager to see a distinctive team from Xinjiang."