Alan Perrin started his career as the head coach of China national team formally, and played two friendly matches during the FIFA international match week. China didn’t lose these two, which were a victory against Kuwait and a draw against Jordan, both played at home. The Frenchman’s first mission will be taking Team China to next year’s Asian Cup held in Australia.
China is allocated in Group C, with Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and North Korea as opponents, the expectation is not high, and most football fans in China do not expect China to qualify for the next stage – not to ‘lose face’, would be Alan Perrin’s mission target.
It is a bit like the England vs Norway friendly in the half empty Wembley Stadium. International football has reached such a low point, that Guangzhou Evergrande FC has become the magnetic attraction of Chinese football in recent years, far more interesting than the hopeless national team, according to most media comments here.
Just as the national team sauntered through these two friendly matches, anther China national team encountered serious defeats in Asia, the U16 national team lost to Australia and Japan in the group stage of the Asian U16 Championship held in Bangkok, and were relegated. What stirred up more media and public interests, was the horrible conditions that the U16 national team had been through for the past 18 months, because the team were formed on April 2013.
There were only 218 registered young footballers who could meet the age group requirements then! 218, and after strict bone age tests, less than 70 players qualified. Then the head coach of U16 China, Mr. Zhang Haitao, told media that the real number of players he could pick and choose, were only 42.
The lack of funding was so serious that nutritional standards for this team were below par, for long distance travelling, the whole team could only take the train, for more than 30 hours, to make the trip from the northeast of China to Guangzhou, which is equal to the distance from Moscow to Paris. When the team was relegated from the Asian U16 Championship, Mr.Zhang still hadn’t received his salary for months.
No-one seems to care about this team, even though it has ‘China’ on its badge. The sorry truth is that this team was in the ODD year age group, because all kids were born on 1998, an even number year.
All youth development age groups in China’s football youth development, still have a strong Olympic purpose, therefore, kids born in an even number year, would always have trouble climbing into the National Olympic Team, and then the full international team. Kids born in 1998, when the 2020 Olympics Game comes, would be one year younger than the standard U23 team members. They have been losing ground in football development, from the day they were born.
And you can’t claim that nobody cares about the Olympics, because that is still the main task of the National Sports Administration, and on each administrative level, there is a sports department, theoretically, that governs the youth development of sports, which includes these football kids born on even number years. Budgets are always limited, Gold medals targets are always related to all level of officials’ political futures; the U16 football kids, whose chances of attributing to the medals hope in an Olympic Games are so slim, who would be rooting for them?
Just as the China Super League is rich with all real estate capital cash, youth development remains an area where there is no interest.
Alain Perrin has a three year contract with China, the qualification stage of World Cup 2018 would be far more important than his team’s performance in next year’s Asian Cup. But how many talents could he be choosing from for the World Cup qualification stage? And what chance for Perrin’s successor?
John Yan is Deputy Editor of Netease.com. Contact him at moc.l1601403218iamg@16014032188002g1601403218naiqn1601403218ay1601403218, or on weibo at:http://weibo.com/1646270104/profile?topnav=1&wvr=5