Chinese football chief: We are second or third class in Asia

Updated: 2014-09-27 19:55


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Chinese football chief: We are second or third class in Asia

Cai Zhenghua in Dalian, Liaoning province, in this Sept 2, 2013 file photo. [Photo/IC]

INCHEON, South Korea -- Cai Zhenhua, the president of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), said here on Saturday that Chinese football has plunged to a new low and the men's side is just rated as "second or third class" in Asia.

China's under-23 national team was eliminated 2-0 in the round of 16 at the Asian Games by Thailand while their women's team, who had reached at least semifinals in the Asiad since 1990, lost to DPR Korea 1-0 in the quarterfinals.

"Obviously, we were no match for Thailand," said Cai, who is also deputy minister of the General Administration of Sports, China's sports ministry. "Victory has seemed just like a dream. I think that it's not strange for a team like this to lose to Vietnam."

Cai, the former head coach of Chinese table tennis team who helped China conquer the world, added, "As the CFA president, I am worried more than anybody else. The fans have very high expectations on Chinese football, but it has broken their hearts all the time. These pains will still last a period of time in the future. We have not done enough in the past few years and that's the reason why we are deep in a crisis today."

The 53-year-old said that it will take 10 years time for Chinese football to become a strong team in Asia.

"We need to be patient," he said. "We need to do some solid work in the next 10 years to narrow the gap between Asia's top teams."

He said that in that process China needs world-class coaches. "I am not blaming our coaches. But the level of the coaching staff of (men's team) is lagging far behind world class. They cannot even compare with Chinese coaches from other sports."

"Chinese football has reached a new low. But we cannot feel emotionally numb. We must take reform and try to find a way suitable for the development of China. In 10 years time, I hope we can see our efforts bear some fruit," Cai said.