Eckhard Krautzun addressed the Chinese U20 squad and staff at a meeting after Tuesday's World Youth Championship round of sixteen defeat at the hands of Germany.
"Firstly I would like to say thank you to all the players and thank you for the good collaboration and cooperation with the Chinese staff," said the 64-year-old coach. "We played to a good level in this game and I'm happy with it. I'm also pleased that in just two months the players have clearly understood what I wanted from them in games. I can say that you showed my concept of football on the pitch. I hope that in the future you will still remember me, an old German, and remember that you learnt something from this old German.
"I hope you players will spend more time of developing your skills and get used to playing fast and physical football. This is the gap between Chinese and top-level European football."
CFA chief executive Xie Yalong said to the players: "I know you are not happy because we lost by one goal, I feel the same way as all of you. But you know that because of your wonderful performances in previous games, the Chinese fans and media have given you very much attention. I think that in this game you showed spirit, a positive attitude and we were not afraid of fighting against any strong team. You should keep this spirit and attitude and be rewarded for your great performances.
"But when we see good performances, we should also be aware of our problems. We are not solid or stable. We get nervous easily. We made some stupid mistakes in the game. All this led to us being knocked out of the tournament. Also, in a fast and physical game we didn't intercept very well, and this is directly related to our level of training.
"In any case, you have accomplished your objective. I should thank all the players, the Chinese coaches, Krautzun and his German assistants, and also the German 08 Star Team project partner. When we get home we need to consider the situation carefully and look at the gap between Chinese football and other teams. Our next step is to prepare for the 2008 Olympic Games with one hundred percent effort. I think you have made a good start at this World Youth Championship, and I hope we can do well at the Olympics."
China were criticised for their defensive lapses against Germany. "I made mistakes in this game and I am responsible for my mistakes," admitted goalkeeper Yang Cheng. "We are not happy, but we will have lots of games to play in the future. We gave Germany too many chances to break our offside trap, and I couldn't move off my line as our defenders moved forward and it was dangerous."
Chen Tao was understandably bitter about scoring two goals and ending up on the losing side. "It was a dream start for us, but they equalised too quickly. If Germany hadn't replied so quickly the result would probably have been different," said the Shenyang Ginde player. "I was very relaxed in the first half and I felt in very good form, but my goals didn't lead the team to victory. We're very disappointed that we didn't get through. I had some stamina problems in the second half. We didn't make very good stamina preparations before the tournament, otherwise I would have performed better."
Zheng Tao also blamed lack of physical fitness for the defeat. "I tried and tried, but I really couldn't run any faster. I really didn't play very well today," said the Inter Shanghai left-back. "I realised that Germany were attacking my position and that all three of their goals came from my position. I tried, but our left midfielder Lu Lin needed to attack, and I had to run back and forth, especially in the latter stages of the game. By the end I was exhausted."
With the World Youth Championship over for China, the U20 players return home this evening then will join up with their respective China Super League clubs to prepare for the second phase of the domestic season which starts in July.
In the meantime, the Chinese FA will analyse China's performance at the WYC and plan for the future. It is thought that the 2006 Chinese season will last just 26 weeks from March to October, to give the national teams more time to train together and prepare for the 2008 Olympics. Each national team (men's, youth and women) are expected to attend month-long training camps at the FFF's Clairefontaine facility just outside Paris, with an U17 team to train in Germany.
Current China boss Zhu Guanghu could take on a dual role as men's national team and Olympics team coach, with an experienced foreign coach to be brought in as technical consultant. Decisions are expected to be made in a meeting at Team China's Xianghe training base on 23 July.