I don’t like Gao Lin. Any casual reader of this site won’t be surprised by that statement, in fact, many would consider it an extreme understatement. So perhaps everyone will be surprised when I say that I am shocked that Alain Perrin didn’t pick Gao for the national team’s critical clash against Qatar that takes place tonight. It’s just one of a number of questionable selections made by Perrin since he took charge of the side and it could cost him his job.
Gao Lin’s failure to be selected this time around is due to his “attitude” during the last two national team matches when he stomped off into the locker room after Perrin made his final substitution against Maldives, leaving Gao on the bench for the second time. Gao’s bit of immaturity leaves something to be desired, especially from someone almost 30 who should be a team leader, but Gao’s the enfante terrible that never grew up. If it was only a matter of taking an early shower, then it’s hard to see why Perrin would leave him out this time around. It’s understandable why Gao would be pissed, especially after watching his fellow strikers struggle to score against Hong Kong and the lowly Maldives. Part of what you get with Gao is his attitude, what you also get is the CSL’s top domestic scorer this season and arguably the best Chinese striker in the league the past few seasons. Granted, with the national team, Gao is often ineffectual, to put it politely, however there was zero inclination that he wasn’t included due to form.
Not selecting Gao is just the latest in a series of head scratching decisions by Perrin. My dislike of Gao can only be topped for my feelings for Huang Bowen (again, any casual reader of this site down the years is sure to be familiar with those feelings), but I’m disappointed to see that once again Huang’s left out of the side. The midfield is the only place where China is somewhat spoiled for choice, but it’s striking that a player of Huang’s caliber and defensive ability has seen himself on the outside for most of the Perrin era.
I’ve probably said more nice things about Evergrande players here than I have the past two years here, so it’s time to shift and talk about Beijing Guoan. Perrin has a unique malady that allows him to see everyone but makes him blind to the existence of one human being, Zhang Xizhe. Either that or Zhang has done something to really piss of Perrin, or more likely someone at the CFA. China doesn’t have a lot of young talent, the current side only sports three players under the age of 25, so bringing Zhang in would be a move to develop the future. As mentioned above, China has plenty of selections in the midfield, though of all those, nobody truly stands out. Like many of them, Zhang can play both on the wing and in the middle and it’s a shock that while Wang Yongpo can still get called into the side, Perrin has failed to find a spot for Zhang even once.
I never believed Perrin was the right man for the job and his selection policy has regularly left me wondering what he was thinking (presuming that he is the one in charge). Despite being gifted a group that couldn’t have been easier, China’s draw to Hong Kong leaves them behind the eight ball and they really need points tonight against Qatar. Failure would leave the blame squarely with Perrin.