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China appoints Camacho as coach of national soccer team

(Xinhua)

09:43, August 15, 2011

Former Spanish national boss Jose Antonio Camacho speaks to the press after arriving in Beijing Capital International Airport, August 13, 2011. (Xinhua/Luo Xiaoguang)

BEIJING, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- China on Sunday appointed former Spanish national coach Jose Antonio Camacho as its new coach in place of the incumbent domestic coach Gao Hongbo.

The experienced Spanish tactician will take helm of the Chinese squad, his second ever job with a national team, under a three-year contract after six months without coaching.

Camacho knew he would shoulder the Chinese hopes of making the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, but the 56-year-old said he has confidence in fulfilling the task.

"I know the goal will be taking the Chinese team to a new level and leading the team to the World Cup so there's a lot of work to do and there's also challenge and pressure.

"Me and my assistants came all the way from Spain and have been working around the clock every day since the negotiations, we want to know better about the country and the job," he added.

The news came only four days after the 45-year-old Gao, the youngest coach ever to lead China, saw his side edge past Jamaica 1-0 in a friendly match played in central China's Hefei on Wednesday.

Gao, a former international striker, was appointed as China's coach in 2009 and made a number of breakthroughs, including winning the East Asian Championships in 2010.

His team, however, failed to pull out a solid performance when it came to big matches as the side crashed out of the 2011 Asian Cup in the group stage, with one victory from three matches.

With the Asian qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup beginning next month, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) has lost patience for the home coach and apparently needs a more experienced man to guide the team to the competition for the Brazil World Cup.

Camacho coached Spain from 1998 to 2002 when the current European and world champion advanced to the quarterfinals of both Euro 2000 and 2002 World Cups.

The former Real Madrid and Benfica coach was fired from Osasuna when the Spanish side was battling relegation in February.

The Spaniard is the seventh foreigner to coach the Asian side, with Yugoslav Bora Milutinovic among the predecessors being the only coach who finished the contract with the CFA by leading the team to the South Korea/Japan World Cup.

It's China's first and only appearance in a World Cup finals tournament.

Camacho is expected to meet the national team for the first time in the southern Chinese city of Kunming on August 22, eleven days before China's Asian Zone qualifying match against Singapore.

CFA boss Wei Di has earlier promised to Camacho that he won't be dismissed if China fails again in the qualification. Wei hopes that under the guidance of the Spanish, the lackluster team could become mature in style and tactics.

In the South Korea/Japan World Cup finals in 2002, China failed to win a match or even score during the tournament.

The fortunes of China's national side are a source of chagrin for the fans while domestic professional clubs have been beset by a match-fixing, gambling and graft scandal.

The scandal has resulted in the arrests of two former national football association bosses and a number of lower-level officials.

"Soccer is the most popular game in the world and China is an important country in the world. The national side belongs to the country and the people so I wish it could get support from all Chinese people and the media," Camacho said.

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