Chinese netizens and football fans are venting their anger against the Chinese national men's football team, with some even calling for their dismissal, after watching the outstanding performances of the nation's neighbors' teams in the 2010 South African World Cup, an online survey said.
In the first round of the games, Japan beat Cameroon 1-0 and South Korea won over the Greeks 2-0.
At the games in Johannesburg, South Africa, the North Korean team, which returned to the World Cup after 44 years, lost in a close-scoring game, 1-2, to the Brazilians, a team that is a five-time world champion. The Chinese football team also faced the Brazilians in a World Cup game eight years ago, but lost with a score of 0-4.
During the Johannesburg games, Jong Tae Se, forward of North Korean team, cried over his national pride when his national anthem was played.
The tears of Jong, who reportedly earns only 12 yuan ($1.76) per month, touched the hearts of many football fans watching the game.
A number of Chinese football fans contrasted some Chinese players to Jong, protesting that some of the Chinese players don't deserve to play for the country.
Young netizens and fans last week made sharp comments at kaixin.com - the Chinese version of Facebook - in a forum titled, "Should the Chinese national men's football team be dismissed?"
As of Sunday, more than 50,000 people voted, with more than 97 percent in support of sacking the entire team.
Meanwhile, only about 1,500 supporters said "no" to the question.
Similar angry opinions were raised in Chinese forums in 2004, when the national football players failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals.
At the time, that was the team's worst result in the World Cup qualifying games for the past decade, though the same thing happened again four years later.
Some said Chinese football will now get past its gloomy era, since a number of players and officials have been detained for game fraud and inside-gambling.
Nan Yong and Yang Yimin, two senior officials of the Chinese Football Association, were accused of fraud and manipulating games, and were taken into custody in January.
After they were detained, the Chinese national football team beat the South Korean team 3-0 in an East Asian tournament in February, ending China's embarrassing 32-year losing streak to South Korea.
Moreover, earlier this month, under the current coach Gao Hongbo, the Chinese team beat former world champion France 1-0.
Zhao Zhen, a reporter with 12 years of Chinese football reporting experience, told China Daily: "Strength and luck are two crucial factors in deciding whether a team can get on the World Cup stage. Our national team lacked both during past years. That's why the team had to watch the games at home."