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Pub Talk: China’s Failure, the CFA Cup Final, and Sven

Your two intrepid correspondents are back this week and talking about the Chinese national team’s failure, amazingly the name Ma Chongchong comes up.  There’s also discussion of the CFA Cup (11/19, 16:00 kick off) between Shandong and Tianjin.  BCheng and Shanghai Ultra both agree Shandong will be victorious, which almost guarantees Tianjin will win.  Finally, there’s some discussion about the transfer season, rumors are flying, and even the name Ronaldhinho has been bandied about. 

Bcheng (Beijing Guoan): I wish we could just ignore “something” and talk about the CFA Cup, Ronaldinho and Sven, but I think we have a pair of matches to discuss.

Shanghai Ultra (Shanghai Shenhua): Unfortunately so.

B: What say you?

S: (sigh)…I really don’t know what to say man. It’s just so incredibly disappointing. I just think it was well within China’s capability to make it through  this group.

B: Right, this is what it all comes down to, the players simply underperformed.

S: I’m really at a loss for words. Frankly, even by China’s standards, this is an unmitigated disaster. Regardless of anything else,  China now have no competitive game’s for the next three years.

B: We now find out how good Camacho is, if he chooses to stay.  He has two years to build Chinese soccer, there’s talent there, I just hope he can bring it along properly.

S: Again, it’s hard to make any insightful comments, there are too many unknowns, in terms of, Camacho’s.managerial ability, his ability to adapt to the China dimension, the ability of the next, generation of players, and the behaviour of the CFA over the next couple of years.

B: I think the unknowns rest with Camacho and the CFA, I think we know a lot about the current generation of players.
There are a few that have yet to put on the national team kit or have only done so once or twice, but we already have a good idea what the roster will be in three years time.

C: Did we? We both thought they would make it through the preliminary qualifying group, but they failed, and quite miserably at that.

B: The defense was horrible, especially so in the away match at Iraq.  Sun Xiang, Li Weifeng, and Zheng Zhi won’t be around much more, hopefully we’ve seen the last of those three in a national team shirt.  The rest of the side (other than Yang Zhi), will be in their late 20s in three years (some won’t even be that old).
There’s an attitude that calls for massive flaggelation after every failure, this time around, I don’t think its appropriate.  China wasn’t played off the pitch once during qualifying, they just couldn’t score and their defense was bad.

C: Its strange in a way, defense is probably the easiest part to get right, it requires little creativity and relies more on tactical discipline and good communication. I have a feeling the right coach should at least be able to make China solid at the back.

B: Getting rid of the old players will help with that.  I think in defense, more so than anywhere on the pitch, we haven’t seen the youngsters yet, especially at center back.  Hopefully, Camacho will look past Du Wei and start using some of the younger players.
As for offense, Camacho failed to use (or only used sparingly) the four players who scored the most under Gao (Yu Hai, Yang Xu, Qu Bo, and Deng Zhuoxiang).

C: Sorry to be Shenhua-centric,  but Dai Lin is a classy defender and much better than Du who is average at best.

B: I’m all for giving Dai a shot, at this point, you can’t rule out anybody, that’s what friendlies are for.  Hell, during one of Gao’s final games, he played Ma Chongchong who was part of Guoan’s youth team playing in Singapore.  Ma didn’t play once for Guoan this year, but he has a national team cap.
Gao was willing to bring a number of different players into camp, give them a try, and if they played well, put them on the pitch.  I hope we’ll see Camacho scouring Chinese Super League rosters and giving new players a try.

C: I think Chinese selection policy seems odd. If someone iany good enough for Guoans first team, dunno how they can be considered for the NT

B: Granted the Ma example may not be the best, the squad he played in was very much an experimental one, but they were still able to earn a draw against Costa Rica. Gao understood how to use friendlies.  At this point, nobody’s name should be an automatic on the lineup card, it’s time to give a lot of guys callups, at the same time, trying to work with the decent core of players.
Camacho used a constantly rotating lineup, which showed his desperation and lack of knowledge.  A few tweaks and we wouldn’t be talking about China being on the outside

C: So we are back to the central issue….it probably wasn’t right to get shot of Gao.

B: Exactly, that’s what it comes down to.  Hindsight’s 20/20, but they could have just as easily failed to qualify under a trained chimp, all that money for Camacho goes down the toilet.
Let it be known I’m not comparing Gao to a chimp, I love Gao and there was absolutely no justifiable reason to fire him when the CFA did.

C: No matter what you think of Gao, the timing of his dismissal was just wrong.

B: Bingo, the proof is in the pudding, China’s not going to Brazil, it’s that simple.  You don’t fix what isn’t broken.
This topic is just so frustrating, because I had so much hope for the side before they made the managerial switch and even after, I thought it was still doable, but the switch and the selection process has been a big step backwards.  It’s depressing and while I said there’s no need for flagallation, I want to see Wei Di’s head on a pole outside of CFA headquarters. Perhaps its time to round up a posse and head to Guangqumen.

C: I agree there’s no need for heads to roll. On a personal note, I’m deeply dissapointed that China won’t be at a World Cup until 2018 at the earliest. Just imagine how exciting and fun it would be to be in China if China qualified. Just imagine the crazy atmosphere at the bars and restaurants around the land, just seeing the country go nuts for their own country instead of Argentina was something I had a deep desire to see.

B: Yes, it would have been fun, it is very unfortunate.  Let’s just hope if Camacho stays, he earns his salary.

C: Time is the solution. Camacho obviously wasn’t the first choice, but theres nothing else for it now other than to give him carte Blanche over the whole Chinese football system.

B: Again, let’s just hope Camacho’s the right man for the job, because he’s the man who has the job.
So on to something else, the CFA Cup’s this weekend, who ya got winning it?

C: Tight call could go either way. I think Shandong will edge it, they had a bad season by thier standards,  but they got it together towards the end of the year. I hope the final is and exciting spectacle for all concerned.

B: I’d agree with you, Shandong was playing well down the stretch and, with Arie Haan leaving, there’s too much instability at Tianjin.

C: I also read a Serie A team had or were about to bid for Chen Tao, his last chance this year to put himself in the shop window…

B: That’s true for a lot of the players, though Tianjin in particular is expecting a mass exodus once this match is over. One of the other big rumors is related to the other side in the final, might we see a Sven sighting in Hefei tomorrow?

C: What’s the story with Sven?

B: It appears he may very well be Shandong’s next manager.  It’s unlikely he’ll be in Hefei as Shandong’s been saying they’ll finalize it after the match.

C: That is an interesting development, I’d love to know how much he will be paid.

B: If he’s signed, you’ll find out here first.
I mentioned the exodus at Tianjin, what do you think of the potential exodus at Shanghai? Many of the transfer rumors seem focused on your squad.

C: Indeed. All manner of big name coaches mentioned in the same breath as Chinese Super League teams these days.

B: Players as well, Ronaldinho being the latest name to come up.

C: As for Shenhua’s transfer situation,  fans h be seen several big names leave so the club can “concentrate on youth” it would be ironic and unacceptable if Shebuys now sold these promising youngsters to other Chinese clubs.

B: With the renminbi amounts being talked about, I just can’t see Shenhua holding on to all these youngsters.

C: Well, we will have to see, I think only Feng is most likely to go anywhere. If Shanghai lose Wu Xi and Cao Yun Ding, I can’t see where the replacements are going to come from. They may as well not bother if they are going to punt the only good players they’ve got, to other Chinese Super League clubs.

B: It depends on how serious Zhu Jun is and how much he’s willing to put up, some of the talk seems like these guys are playing monopoly.

C: I’m really not that worried,  Zhu Jun I don’t think would dare. His name is already scum with most Shenhua fans.

B: We shall see, maybe he’ll make it up by making a big named foreign buy and bring the fans back to Shanghai soccer.  It seems despite his status not being known, Marlon Harewood is happy to help recruit with his glowing remarks about his time in the China League, comparing Guangzhou Fuli on positive terms to an English Championship side really shocked me. [Editor’s note: the Harewood article can be found here.]

C: That’s a very odd remark for him to make. Perhaps the Cantonese food is affecting his health.

B: I guess he’s been to a different part of Guangzhou, where there’s dogs and live chickens everywhere you look.

C: Yeah I saw all manner of caged animals on the streets of Guangzhou,  and I believe they were not for sale was pets.

B: I wouldn’t rate the China League that highly, but the Chinese Super League has certainly gotten far more respectable, which is why bigger player and managerial names are being thrown around.

C: I found another article online from mainstream western media about China not making the world cup. I think it says nothing new or interesting or insightful.

B: Not to toot our own horn, but its Friday afternoon and I’ve been having myself a few “pops”, if you want new, interesting, or informative insight into Chinese football, this is the only place to come.  Bloomberg, AP, Shanghai Daily, come and get us.

C: Actually the author of that article is quite smart, they recognized they don’t know much about Chinese football so they just quoted loads of sources which did. Well played.

B: That’s one approach. With that, are we done for another week?

C: I think this may be the first pub talk during which we have both actually been consuming alcoholic beverages.

B: I have yet to, but I certainly wish I was…and in an hour or so I certainly will be…

C: Thought you had a few pops already, B- Dog?

B: Sarcasm/day dreaming.

C: Wishful thinking. Oh well. So, the end of another Pub Talk is almost us, watch out everyone for end-of-season reviews and the first annual awards coming very soon.
upon us

B: Cheers!

C: This is C signing off, live from Dali, Yunnan for the weekend.

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.



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