China's soccer, basketball, volleyball face tougher battles for Olympic berths

11:02, July 29, 2011      

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With London Olympic Games only one year to go, prospects for Chinese soccer, basketball and volleyball to earn Olympic berths remain slim.

Chinese men's Olympic soccer team has just finished their campaign as they lost to Oman 4-1 in a two-leg second round of 2012 London Olympic Asian men's soccer qualifiers.

Croatian Miroslav Blazevic, who once took the Croatian national team to win a bronze medal in 1998 World Cup, became head coach of Chinese team in last December but failed to bring a miracle to China. The team assembled five times for a total of 70 days but changed little in terms of tecniques and tactics.

Chinese women's team once won silver medals in 1996 Atlanta Olympics and 1999 Women's World Cup. However, they have been going down due to lack of young players. According to Chinese Football Association, China has only 400 registered women soccer players in sharp contrast to the world's 29 million. As a result, Chinese women's team failed to reach the quarterfinals of 2004 Athens Olympics and were even absent from the 2011 Germany's World Cup.

Now the team has finished their training in Changchun, northeast of China, where they aimed to reserve physical strength. The team played two friendly matches against Russia with one win and one draw. And then they moved to Shenyang for next training phase and will leave for Jinan about ten days before the Olympic Asian qualifiers slated from Sep 1 to 11.

According to the competition schedule, China will play successively against South Korea, DPR Korea, Thailand, Australia and Japan. Top two teams will be awarded Olympic slots after the single round-robin tournament.

Li Xiaopeng, head coach of Chinese women's team, expressed his confidence in earning an Olympic berth despite the fact that China lacks good forwards as Han Duan and Ma Xiaoxu both sustained injuries.

"We are on the same level with other teams, and we have the strength to beat them."said he.

Yu Hongchen, deputy director of China's football governing body, said:"I totally trust the coaching staff and they will bring hopes to us."

Compared with Chinese soccer's goal of winning Olympic tickets, Chinese basketball aimed to enter the last eight in London.

If Chinese men's and women's teams are crowned in Asian Championships this year, they can go directly to London. If not, they will have to play wildcard tournaments next year, which will allocate three tickets each for men and women.

Asian Men's Basketball Championships will take place from Sept. 15 to 25 in Wuhan of China. Reigning champion China will encounter a big challenge from Iran, champion in 2009 and South Korea, runner-up in 2010.

Hu Jiashi, vice president of Chinese Basketball Association, downplayed China's defending prospects. And veteran Wang Zhizhi said that former NBA center Yao Ming's retirement will definitely influence China's preparation for the Asian Championships.

However, another NBA player Yi Jianlian, who plays for Washington Wizards, said in confidence:"We have home advantage and winning the tournament is our mere target."

Asian Women's Basketball Championships will be held from Aug. 21-28 in Japan. China has built up their confidence after they lifted the titles in 2009 Asian Championships and 2010 Asian Games.

China head coach Sun Fengwu said:"We will be the champion in the 2011 Asian Championships." Center Chen Nan echoed:"There must be some difficulties, but we are still stronger than our rivals South Korea and Japan."

Chinese volleyball may face a tougher road to the London Olympics. For the women's side, they have not been what they used to be in 2004 Athens Games and 2008 Beijing Games. After a variety of defeats, the flagship team has changed its head coaches from Cai Bin to Wang Baoquan and then to Yu Juemin.

China will have to go through the Asian Championships in September to win a slot for the World Cup in Japan in November, where top three placers will advance to the London Games. Otherwise, China will have to play the World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Japan in 2012.

It's really hard for China to go to London upright through the World Cup as Russia, Brazil are strong rivals. However, if China remain in a steady level, it is possible for them to win an Olympic ticket in the World Olympic Qualification Tournament.

As for Chinese men's volleyball, chance is slim as the team is far from the world class. They only played the Olympics in 1984 and 2008. But head coach Zhou Jian'an said they will never give up.

Source:Xinhua
 
 
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(Editor:陈乐乐)

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