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When will Chinese football offer us some hope?

(People's Daily Online)

13:47, June 19, 2013

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

This weekend, Chinese football suffered yet another embarrassing defeat, and the state of Chinese football has become a national concern. On the evening of June 15, the Chinese national football team played a warm-up game with Thailand in Hefei, Anhui Province. China has lost 1-5 to Thailand, achieving a single result China's biggest-ever loss to Thailand, and China's biggest-ever home defeat.

There can be no question that this was a milestone. The Chinese national team sits 95th in the international rankings, while Thailand languishes in 142nd place. Moreover, the Thai team were not even full internationalists, with most of them being young Olympic players. Prior to this match, the Chinese team has already lost two matches against Uzbekistan and the Netherlands. They were hoping to secure a victory against Thailand because it is a weaker team; such hopes were thoroughly dashed.

We must put aside any sense of disappointment, anger or desperation, and ask ourselves questions to which there is a growing need for answers. The national team has suffered three consecutive defeats in warm-up matches. Fans will understand the results against Uzbekistan and the Netherlands, but when we lose to a team as weak as Thailand, we have to ask: "What is wrong with Chinese football? Where do we go from here?"

When people discuss about our football, one of the first reactions tends to be complaints about the coach. It appears that neither our own coaches nor a foreign coach are up to the job. But all those foreign coaches we have had, from Schlappner to Camacho - are they all incompetents? The truth is that the coach cannot change anything if the players do not come up to scratch.

Some have suggested that Camacho - a veteran with experience of both the Spanish national team and Real Madrid - has no proper strategy; that his pursuit of his goals is haphazard. Since he took over as the head coach of the national football team, its ranking has fallen relentlessly, from the 60s to below 90th place. These three new defeats will do nothing to alter that trend. More and more people are now calling for Camacho's head - he must take responsibility of all three setbacks. But Camacho should not be alone in taking the blame for shortcomings of China's national football team.

Speaking of the loss, Hao Haidong, a former internationalist, said: "every player should know that it is not about who the coach is, it is about every one of you representing our country." Another former national team player, Peng Guowei, added: "as soon as our national flag rises and our national anthem starts, forget the opposition, forget the coach, think only right now you are representing China! Besides our abilities, we need a sense of mission, a sense of responsibility and a sense of honor. Is it not strange that some players are in terrific form for their clubs but lose all sense of purpose when they play in the national team?"

A football match can always go one of several ways. One match does not prove anything and we should not put too much emphasis on a single performance. However, we can see that the poor form of our national team extends is not limited to one or two recent matches; and we can find little reason for future optimism.

This latest defeat provides an opportunity for us to take some time and think things through carefully. It also represents an opportunity for change, and a fresh start. As the former Chinese Football Association official Lang Xiaonong said: "Our football team is not as good as it used to be, but it should not have reached this state. We should be doing better. Is this the best we can do? The whole national set-up has to be changed - Chinese football needs reform!"

How to make necessary changes? Everyone will have their own answers. These answers might share common features, such as reforming football's administrative side: "Departments with new leaders have done no work on reform," observed the well-known commentator Bai Yansong. "It seems that all of the leaderships are paying attention, but nothing has changed that really matters. Our reform is going nowhere."

In addition, should we continue with the anti-corruption drive in football? A series of actions that started October of 2009, aimed at eliminating gambling and other evils that afflict the game, have attract considerable attention and have borne fruit. Such actions must continue, and go deeper.

In addition, we need to focus on developing young talent. According to authoritative statistics, the number of teenage players hit the historic high of 650,000 between 1990 and 1995; by 2000 this number has dropped to 610,000; from 2000 to 2005 it continues its decline to 180,000; now only a few thousand registered teenage players remain. If we do not value young talent but focus only on short-term profit and a few high-paid stars, the prospects for Chinese football look bleak.

This one loss is a sign of many problems. It is a positive thing that it should trigger a collective reflection. When will Chinese football lead us from despair to new hope? Coach and players cannot do it alone - there has to be reform on the administrative side, and a new commitment to training young talent.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:YeXin、Chen Lidan)

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CK at 2013-06-19115.135.186.*
Cancell the foot ball programme or so call professional foot ball game, China will do better if using inter-province or inter-city team to select for China National team. Give them good pay when drafted into national team, and have 3 to 4 teams stand by for world cups, China can do better that way, plus also can stop the nonsense game fixing.

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