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China Daily Website

Metro Beijing

Pressure on Camacho to get results

Updated: 2011-08-18 12:02
By Brandon Chemers ( China Daily)

After replacing energetic Gao, Spaniard needs to hit the ground running as new coach of the China nation team

When Gao Hongbo took over the Chinese national soccer team, it was a side in disarray. Discontent was running high among an aging squad. Yet, he turned it around. Gao's youth policy literally changed the face of Chinese soccer, as many older players who had long been national team fixtures were replaced with youngsters who most had never heard of (but would quickly become familiar with). He brought respectability and even hope back to the national team.

Then, this year's Asian Cup happened. There were big expectations for China going into the competition, but they only managed four points and failed to advance from the group stage. More disappointing were the obvious tactical and substitution issues that Gao had during the tournament, calling into question whether he had the experience necessary to lead China. However, we should also remember Gao's accomplishments, when he took over in April 2009, the team was ranked 12th in Asia. By April this year, it was ranked fifth. This may not seem like a big deal, but it meant China was able to avoid the top Asian sides in the first round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

When word started to spread that Wang Jianlin, the very wealthy head of Wanda Real Estate, was going to invest in Chinese football and hoped his money could attract a new world-class manager, it looked like the sky was the limit, and that this time the China Football Association's(CFA) promise to find a world-class manager to guide the national squad was going to be a reality.

All the big European coaching names started floating around; some realistic some not so. Klinsmann, Lippi, Van Basten, Hiddink, Beenhakker, Rijkaard and Scolari were all mentioned. When you hear those names, you think top managers, international experience and, most of all, trophies.

Despite all the talk, the end result is that Jose Antonio Camacho is now China's manager. Those fans asking "who?" aren't alone. It's hard not to feel let down once again by the CFA and its chairman Wei Di. After all the talk, Camacho is an underwhelming choice and makes it even harder to see Gao – a young, energetic Chinese manager – be pushed aside.

Camacho isn't a complete unknown, having managed Spain at the 2000 European Championships and the 2002 World Cup, as well as a brief stint at Real Madrid. Yet, the only trophy he has won was the Portuguese League Cup with Benfica, and his managerial career is less than stellar. The Chinese job could potentially invigorate a career that was stalled at best.

The pressure is on Camacho. Anything less than qualification for the Word Cup will be unacceptable. It's less than three weeks before his first match in charge, China's opening qualifying match against Singapore on Sept 2. While it's possible to dismiss the Singapore match as an easy victory, within the first two months of his tenure Camacho will have to play difficult away matches in the Middle East, where China has often struggled.

Good luck to Gao, whatever his next step is, as well as Camacho, who has a difficult task ahead of him.

The author is an American blogger for and an avid supporter of Beijing Guo'an. To comment, e-mail or visit our Sina Weibo. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of METRO.