Thu, December 11, 2008
Sports > Soccer

Caretaker boss of Chinese soccer expecting miracles

2008-12-11 03:36:48 GMT2008-12-11 11:36:48 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

Even patriotic fans of Chinese soccer admit that caretaker boss Yin Tiesheng may have bitten off more than he can chew by stating his intention to win the team's next two Asian Cup qualifiers.

Yin, who was appointed Tuesday after Vladimir Petrovic of Serbia stepped down following China's failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, said he believes he can make miracles happen and revive the team's flagging fortunes.

"Whether I have been appointed on a temporary basis or not, I am now serving as the head coach," said Yin, who resigned as coach of Qingdao in the Chinese Super League last spring. "The coaching team and I will unite the current players, dig deeper and produce the best result at the two upcoming qualifiers."

Others are less optimistic, and with good reason.

"We just hope the team do not lose both games," an unidentified official from the Chinese Football Association was quoted as saying by Titan Sports.

"Playing away against Syria will not be an easy match. A draw should be enough. But I hope we can do our best at home against Vietnam and try to win."

With the coaching position dormant for several weeks now and the team only assembling for its first practice yesterday, Chinese fans and media seem to need more convincing than mere rhetoric.

While Yin will be bolstered by two of his compatriots on the coaching staff for the Jan 14 away fixture with Syria and the home match against Vietnam one week later, memories of the country's disastrous Olympic and World Cup qualifying campaigns continue to haunt players.

As if this were not enough of a poisoned chalice, Yin also inherits a team with notoriously poor discipline and yawning personnel gaps due to injury or poor form.

Of China's overseas contingent, only Sun Xiang, who plays for Austria's league-leading Vienna, is currently available. Former national captain Zheng Zhi, now plying his trade for English Championship club Charlton, is injured, as is Sheffield United defender Sun Jihai and midfielder Shao Jiayi, who plays for German Bundesliga club Cottbus.

The new team also has to cope without former captain Li Weifeng, who was kicked out for disciplinary reasons and veteran striker Li Jinyu, who demonstrated his attacking prowess time and again for domestic league champions Shandong Luneng.

Yin, 52, has four warm-up matches to get the world No 98-ranked team up to speed for the Asian Cup qualifiers. These include two fixtures at this month's Four Nations tournament in Oman, and friendly matches with Jordan on Dec 21 and Iran on Jan 9.

If he can banish memories of China's poor track record in world tournaments - it did not score a single goal in its only World Cup appearance in 2002, then got dumped out of the group stage at the Beijing Games - and recalibrate the team for regional success, maybe the fans will follow.

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