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Media Blasts 'Muddleheaded' Team, Calls for Heads to Roll at CFA
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After the national team's meek exit from the Asian Cup on Wednesday, domestic newspapers would not have made easy reading for anyone connected with Chinese soccer.

Needing only a draw to advance to the quarterfinals, China was beaten 3-0 by Uzbekistan - a result that is likely to mean the end of head coach Zhu Guanghu's troubled two-year tenure.

"'A giant in speech, but a dwarf in action', that is Zhu Guanghu," said an editorial in the Beijing Times.

"The Chinese Football Association (CFA) has to learn from the setback. There are too many braggarts working for them, the association must begin firing people."

Following the failure to qualify for the 2006 World Cup, the team reached a new low with its worst Asian Cup effort in 27 years.

"Bankrupt! Go Home!" said a headline in the Beijing Youth Daily. The paper urged a total rethink of how the soccer association operates and called for more foreign coaches and administrators in the CFA."

The players were not spared the newspaper's ire. "They were muddleheaded and looked like a bunch of idiot schizophrenics," the paper observed.

"We hope that losing the Asian Cup will help everyone to think clearer and quickly rid themselves of their unrealistic dreams. Chinese soccer needs to be more open and bring in more international expertise."

The Beijing Morning Post echoed the call for an overhaul, saying there are many areas in which Chinese soccer needs to improve.

"Chinese soccer keeps punishing itself with the same mistakes over and over again," it said.

The paper blamed Wednesday's loss on the team's two top stars missing the match after being suspended with two yellow cards.

But it also blamed the soccer body for hiring Zhu in the first place and for failing to bring order to a domestic league that is riddled with corruption, match fixing and bad refereeing.

Zhu took full responsibility for the loss, but refused to step down.

"I will not leave soccer," he said. "I take responsibility for the defeat."

However, the consensus among media is that Zhu will be relieved of his duties after returning to Beijing and giving his team performance report.

According to Titan Sports, former France striker Jean-Pierre Papin could replace Zhu in the near future.

"Yes, I am a candidate for China coach. I am interested in that position, but perhaps I'm not the only one on the list," Titan Sports quoted Papin as saying.

"If the situation is fine, why not? And I have to point out it's not mine, but the Chinese Football Association's decision."

Papin, 43, who left RC Strasbourg in June after guiding the club to promotion to French Ligue 1, said he would talk with the CFA in Beijing later this month.

Appointed in 2005, Zhu was the first local coach since 1997, when compatriot Qi Wusheng was fired in the wake of China's failure to reach the 1998 World Cup. Qi was later replaced by a series of international coaches, Englishman Bobby Houghton then Bora Milutinovic from Serbia and Dutchman Arie Haan.

(China Daily July 23, 2007)

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