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World Cup Qualifier 3: China 0 – 1 Iraq

I feel like a broken record at this point, but there’s probably a reason why.  Every time China gives its fans a bit of hope, it very quickly finds a way to crush that hope in new and ever more devastating ways.  On paper, China looked like the better team and, at home, getting three points against Iraq should have been very doable, and yet when the final whistle blew, it was disappointment once again.

China was felled by an Iraqi goal right before the end of the first half, a long pass came in, the defense was out of sorts, not putting enough pressure on the one Iraqi striker, but also leaving leeway for another, the two attackers worked a beautiful one two play and got one past Yang Zhi, who once again played an incredible game and should finally end the discussion about potential replacements.

Camacho’s decision to start Feng Renliang over Yu Hai was a bit of a shock, but Feng seemed like he was up for the task and often looked very dangerous, the problem was it never amounted to very much.  Another Camacho change, Huang Bowen, also impressed on the night, but it was all for naught.  Camacho insists on playing a 4-5-1 and that just doesn’t seem to work for China, Gao Lin, who was back in the lineup tonight, simply isn’t a good enough striker to function in this system.

Even after Iraq went down to ten men after a player collected a second yellow, China couldn’t take advantage of it.  Iraq played a very physical game, but their plan to rough up China seemed to work wonders and they managed to get the one goal that they needed.

"It's the same old song...."

I’m still not ready to say Camacho is a bad coach, it’s way too early for that, the situation he was thrown into is all too familiar though and no matter who they brought in, they might not be able to do better.  Camacho has no idea of the players he has on his side, their strengths and weaknesses, and its showed.  He also has yet to build any rapport with his players, part of that is the language difference, part of it is the lack of time with them, and another part of it is the language difference (and CFA’s failure to find a decent translator for him).

Now China sits in 3rd place with 3 points out of 3 matches, Jordan is on 9 points and looks assured to advance, so now China must fight for the remaining spot, but that fight will get harder as they have to go to Iraq (who is on 6 points) in a month and win back the points they lost tonight.  It seemed like it would all work out, an easy draw, a solid squad, a lot of reasons for hope, but once again the national team proves you can never have hope when talking about Chinese football.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Yiddo Huayi

    12/10/2011 at 02:56

    “I’m still not ready to say Camacho is a bad coach, it’s way too early for that, the situation he was thrown into is all too familiar though and no matter who they brought in, they might not be able to do better. Camacho has no idea of the players he has on his side, their strengths and weaknesses, and its showed.”

    Yes he took the job on at a rather ill-thought out time so he deserves some slack. Ultimately he will have to shoulder responsibility (amongst all his piles of RMB) if China fail to qualify.

    C’mon Guangzhou – 2012 AFC Champions!

    • bcheng

      12/10/2011 at 07:32

      Like always, there isn’t just one source of blame, there isn’t an easy target. The manager tends to face pressure because he’s the only real changeable element, but it isn’t his fault, you have to blame Wei Di and the CFA for making the decision to change midstream. And of course it wouldn’t be a national team game if the majority of players weren’t underperforming…

  2. WEF Editor

    12/10/2011 at 10:23

    Desperately disappointing for China, unlucky to lose. But Camacho should go back to the drawing board, go 4-4-2, get Han Peng in the squad to meet Feng’s crosses, and call up playmaker Cao Yunding from the U-23s.

    • Rovertlamb

      12/10/2011 at 10:58

      The best aspect you can say about the Chinese team is that the players always looked in the match. Even late in the game desperation did not replace professionalism (the same cannot be said about Iraq). Of course tactically changes will be need to made as the coaching staff and players still seem to be adjusting to one another.

  3. Vincent

    12/10/2011 at 15:18

    “ you can never have hope when talking about Chinese football”,I can’t agree you more!

  4. Football_Fan

    12/10/2011 at 22:53

    It’s very clear to me now that changing Gao Hongbo for Camacho is a mistake…
    SO Big Name from Europe not necessary means instant success…
    Dun think Camacho is a bad coach but does he understand Chinese and Asian football…?
    Mark my word, he will be gone very soon …the same to Frank Rijkard , coach of Saudi Arabia as well…

    • bcheng

      13/10/2011 at 07:46

      I don’t think the CFA will fire Camacho, they made the idiotic decision to sign him through 2014, so he’ll get his money no matter what, which means if they fire him they’ll be looking for a cheap (ie domestic) option and it would be too embarrassing as the best domestic option is probably Gao.

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