High-stakes game for Camacho

Updated: 2013-03-20 23:41

By Chen Xiangfeng (China Daily)

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High-stakes game for Camacho

Chinese national soccer head coach Jose Antonio Camacho (right) instructs his players during a training session on Tuesday in Changsha, Hunan province. China is preparing for its second Asian Cup qualifying match, which will be against Iraq on Friday. [Provided to China Daily] 

David Beckham is visiting town this week as an ambassador in the hope of improving China's reputation in the soccer community, but even the English superstar's goodwill will be unable to save Spanish coach Jose Antonio Camacho's reputation if his Chinese soccer team fails to win its Asian Cup qualifier against Iraq on Friday on home soil.

The 57-year-old former Spain and Real Madrid handler's tenure as China boss suffered a huge blow last month as his misfiring side was beaten 2-1 away by Saudi Arabia in its opening game of the qualifiers.

Some local media have reported that a loss or even a draw in Changsha Helong Sports Center, Hunan province, could signal the end of Camacho's stint in China, which has been far from impressive since he took charge of the national team in 2010.

China crashed out in the first round of World Cup qualifying last February and had to play a slate of friendly games to stay in shape and try to come together as a team. However, it has lost four friendlies since June of last year, including an 8-0 drubbing by Brazil, and has won just once.

Adding to the coach's misery is the latest FIFA world rankings, in which China slumped to a lowest-ever 109th position.

Camacho is well aware of the significance of beating Iraq in a bid to keep the team's hopes of advancing to the Asian Cup finals alive as well as relieve the huge burden on the side from the fans and media.

"We are under pressure after the first loss. Every game is significant for us now," he said. "It's the national team and we have the responsibility to try our best. In Changsha, we must win.

"We have to be focused from the first minute and to show the determination that we are the favorites to win the game.

"I also hope fans can keep their trust and support of the team. Come to the stadium and cheer our games."

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