Since the international retirement of scoring legend Hao Haidong in 2004, China's strikers have come under constant fire for their inability to find the net consistently.

However, the scoring drought looks likely to end with the return to form of Qu Bo, and his eagerness to fill the attacking void. And he has the backing of his predecessor, Hao, who describes Qu as being "even quicker" than himself.

Speaking with FIFA.com in an exclusive interview, Qu Bo, who is often compared to English ace Michael Owen, downplayed Hao's appraisal with humility. "I am not sure if I am that good, or that fast, but I am always ready to do my best for the national team."

The 26-year-old provided a glimpse of his ability against Australia in the last qualifier on 26 March when he came off the bench with little more than 15 minutes left. And after nearly scoring with his first touch, he surged into the Australian penalty only area to be brought down by Mark Schwarzer.

The Aussie No1 then went from villain to hero as he saved Shao Jiayi's spot kick to deny China a famous win. Despite narrowly missing out on the three points, the team's performance provided food for thought ahead of their next qualifier with Qatar on 2 June.

"When I was brought on in the second half I had a strong feeling that I could at least do something for the team," the forward said. "We played well against Australia and we showed we can play against any team."

Early promise
Qu Bo first showed his potential with the country's youth side at the 2001 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina, where his sparkling performances suggested to the watching world that China had an unpolished gem.

Having claimed the only goal against the US en route to a spot in the second round, he went on to display his acumen with one of the finest goals of the tournament when he silenced 32,000 home fans at the Jose Amalfitani Stadium by canceling out Maxi Rodriguez's fourth-minute opener.

The match ended 2-1 for the hosts and eventual champions, but the goal is still a fond memory for Qu Bo.

"This was one of the two best goals I've scored for my country," he told FIFA.com. "The other one was with the senior national team in a friendly against the US."

Following the U-20 finals Qu experienced a meteoric rise to prominence which reached its peak the next year when he played all three matches in China's debut at the FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan. His convincing performances earned him a trial with Tottenham Hotspur, which ended with a work permit problem.

The disappointment, however, didn't end there as the striker suffered a serious bout of Thyrotoxicosis (a thyroid disorder) and broke both legs in an Olympic qualifying match the next year. Through hard and consistent work he regained fitness by 2006, when he scored six times with Qingdao Jonoon before earning a recall to the national team in 2007.

Having undergone incredible hardship, it seems that Qu has risen from ashes.

"For any player such adversities might mean the end of their career but I just didn't give up and fortunately my efforts paid off," said Qu, who announced his return to the national team with a brace in a 7-0 rout of Myanmar last October. "Now I am thinking of making up for lost time by working harder."

"The next double-header against Qatar will be crucial for us and I am hoping I can reproduce my best form as we are looking for our first win," Qu he continued. "Now is a hard time for our country after the earthquake disaster and, as players, we should rise to the occasion to comfort our suffering people a bit."