While other countries were debating who was in and who was out of their World Cup roster, fans of the Chinese national team (the few that still exist), were left to discuss manager Alain Perrin’s proposed 50 man player pool, made up entirely of players under 30.
Perrin’s decision to focus on younger players is important and is similar to what Gao Hongbo did when he entered the national team. His strategy of creating a wider pool of players and likely giving many of them call-ups to the side is similar to Gao’s original strategy as well.
These are both moves in the right direction for China, while next January’s Asian Cup is an important competition, the key is to get the younger players experience on a major stage as those are the players who will be key when qualifying for the 2018 World Cup begins. China’s ultimate goal is getting back to the World Cup, even if it means yet another China team meets its end in the group stage of an Asian Cup.
In Australia, China will face off against North Korea and two very familiar sides, Saudi Arabia (who they faced in Asian Cup qualifying), and Uzbekistan (who they were in the same group as in the 2011 Asian Cup). None of the sides are pushovers, but there also isn’t an overly dominant team in the group.
Perhaps because of this hope, the CFA is pressuring Perrin, who has said that there will be no age limit when selecting the Asian Cup side. For Gao, it took a bad Asian Cup before the CFA forced him to bring back some of the older players, but Perrin appears to be caving from the start.
The current roster already has plenty of players with considerable international experience for club and country, it’s time for the manager to take a stricter stance and only use the younger players. Older players like Zheng Zhi have served the national team faithfully for 10 years or more, it’s now time for the next generation.
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