Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Friday, May 31, 2002

World Cup Exciting Opportunity for China

After all, the first-ever Chinese presence at the FIFA World Cup soccer finals fulfills a decades-old Chinese dream.


After all, the first-ever Chinese presence at the FIFA World Cup soccer finals fulfills a decades-old Chinese dream.

Like Beijing's successful bid for the 2008 Summer Olympics, the significance of the team's expected debut at the World Cup finals has gone beyond the sport itself.

For many, that our men's soccer team finally has made it to the finals in South Korea and Japan is a matter of national pride. And our national team has become a roster of national heroes.

Expectations are high. The red-hot topic is whether our World Cup squad can, by luck and toil, squeeze into the top 16.

We may not see an end to the guessing game until the dust settles.

However, considering the strength of all the competing teams, our squad might not go too far. After all, it is weak and new in the World Cup.

Appearance in the world soccer event itself is a landmark which will help our team learn how far behind the world's real soccer powerhouses we are.

Luck played a key role in the team's qualification for the World Cup finals. Had South Korea and Japan, two of its most feared rivals in Asia, not been the co-hosts of the event, our chance would have been slim.

Luck might do our squad another favour and bring it into the top 16, but even that would not attest to our true strength in soccer.

Or our squad might come back not having scored a single goal. We should still cheer for the World Cup, for all the competing teams, including our national team.

Drawn by the unparalleled glamour of soccer, billions of fans and viewers across the world will be watching their beloved teams with eager eyes throughout the next month.

We all look forward to seeing the world's best players demonstrate the beauty and charm of soccer as an art. Perhaps more important for an event like the World Cup than the display of human strength, however, is sportsmanship.

We certainly wish that our players come up with a miracle.

If they can win any game at all, it will be a huge plus.

Even if they lose, they will not disappoint. They can lose the games, but not in the area of sportsmanship. They do not have to win to be heroes. But they have to display teamwork and tenacity, which they said they have learned, in their performances.

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