China Ready to Face Tough Task in Asian Cup Bidding

China were ready to face a tough task of winning the 2004 Asian Cup bid, a Chinese top soccer official said on Friday.

"We know it could be very difficult, but we're very confident to host the 2004 Asian Cup, said Zhang Jilong, vice-president of the Chinese Football Association.

"Whatever the result will be, we take the 2004 Asian Cup tournament as a way to develop the Asian football and the sport in China as well," added Zhang, head of a 18-member Chinese bidding team, which will arrive here on October 24.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will select the best bidders from China, Thailand and Iran as the hosts of the premier soccer tournament in Asia in a meeting on October 28.

But Zhang said the Chinese FA will ask AFC to make the final decision right after the probes of the three countries on October 27.

China lost the bidding battle to Lebanon in 1996 when China were the favorites and set to success after the stage of probing.

But the AFC members from the West Asia changed their minds overnight to vote for Lebanon.

"We'll ask the AFC to make the decision right after the probes on October 27," Zhang told a press conference in Jounieh, a town 40 kilometers north to Beirut.

Zhang praised Lebanon of the excellent organisation in the Asian Cup Lebanon 2000, of the construction of three standard modern stadiums in Beirut, Tripoli and Saida, in just four years.

"It's a marvelous work for Lebanon," he said. "It's a right decision choosing Lebanon as the hosts of the tournament, which prompts the development of the sport in the country," he said.

People's Daily Online ---