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WEF Editorial: China has hit rock bottom, Camacho must go

Wild East Football failed to carry a match report on the China-Thailand game on Saturday, in part it’s due to some issues we were having with the website, in part it’s because it would be virtually impossible to write a straight, non-emotional piece on that match. As the Chinese Football Association (CFA) is spending the week mulling over what to do with national team manager Jose Antonio Camacho, we at have a very simple answer, fire him.

China reached an all-time low on Saturday night when they lost 5-1 to Thailand in Hefei, while there are a number of issues that need to be addressed, firing failing manager, Jose Antonio Camacho, is a must.

Having supported China since the heady days of 2000, when there was legitimate reasons to be hopeful China could get into the World Cup, I cannot remember a time worse than the present. The national team had three tough matches over the last fortnight, nothing was expected against Holland, but the team was supposed to be able to shine against Uzbekistan and Thailand, especially considering both matches were played in China. In the end, China lost all three matches, the Thai match, against what was virtually that nation’s U-23 side, was the ultimate disaster.

It’s easy to talk about the absolutely horrible performance put in by many of the players against Thailand, especially defenders Zhao Peng and Feng Xiaoting, whose mistakes and ball watching gifted Thailand goals. It’s also easy to criticize the players’ lack of professionalism for outright quitting in the match (it seems as a tactic to get the hated Camacho fired) and of a few of the Guangzhou Evergrande players who were out drinking late the night before the Thailand match. While this sort of behavior, especially when representing your country, brings up serious questions about the mentality of the players, these are far more complex to address.

What isn’t is that Camacho’s reign has been an unparalleled disaster from the start. A popular, successful manager was fired, the CFA had to go far down their list to find his replacement, the translator brought in was unfit to do the job, and China was very quickly eliminated in World Cup qualifying. Camacho’s experience at Real Madrid and Spain were used to sell him as an excellent choice, most fans didn’t buy it. Now, with the news that is leaking out of the CFA, it seems nobody in the CFA believed in him either, instead he was forced on them by Wanda.

Camacho’s player selection has always been an issue of contention, using players who aren’t even getting regular playing time at their club in the national team doesn’t make a lot of sense. He also seems, despite two years in the position, to have failed to build any kind of relationship with the players. His strategies and decision making haven’t worked and yet he’s failed to try much of anything new.

While he should have already been fired, it seems that financial considerations have prevented the CFA from pulling the trigger. At this point, financial considerations be damned, China needs a new manager. The East Asian Cup, a tournament the three other participants are likely to place little importance on, is a good time to bring in someone new, giving them enough time to build a rapport with the players and be prepared for the three important Asian Cup qualifying matches in the fall.

CFA, it’s time, fire Camacho.

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.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Steve Crooks

    18/06/2013 at 11:31

    Managers make easy scapegoats — while Camacho has clearly not worked out and there’s ample grounds to replace him, as you hint at here the problems run a LOT deeper and it’s a case of hoping that sacrificing the coach doesn’t prevent a larger-scale review of the problems and longer-term, larger-scale action being taken.

    As many other countries have proven (my own England being a prime example), you can bring in any profile of coach but they’re still working with the talent, infrastructure and system set up by the national association.

    • bcheng

      18/06/2013 at 12:56

      I get where you’re coming from and I tend to give the manager more leeway than most, but the situation with Camacho is different. I hate to come back to it, but things were on the right track under Gao Hongbo and the team had a confidence that seemed missing for so long, under Camacho, the results aren’t there and it seems like the players just don’t want to play for him. While there are other issues beyond the manager that caused the loss to Thailand, the overall problem for China right now is simple: Camacho.

      There are obviously issues with the infastructure and system of Chinese football, those definitely need to be addressed, but Gao had similar talent and produced excellent results, Camacho has taken Chinese football backwards.

  2. Yenster

    18/06/2013 at 22:06

    We could spend all day talking about the quality of Chinese football, how they need to sort out their infrastructure or even how we probably lost a generation of players due to all the bribery that once happened, however when you compare Camacho’s management to Gao Hongbo and just plainly looking at the results it’s obvious we’re going backwards, it’s the same players but different results. You can’t blame infrastructure for that.

  3. Kakaroct7

    20/06/2013 at 10:46

    IMO, i think Camacho just wants to lose the match and then get himself fired by CFA yet still get the compensation he wanted…. but later probably stunned by how the Thais gave their all in the match and eventually losing 1-5 …
    The players also are not being professional as usual in friendlies…may be they thought it just another meaningless game…
    Ultimately, Camacho has to go cause it’s very clear that he has not been a good coach for the last 2 years…
    i mean, it’s no brainer …wtf is CFA waiting?????

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