Captain takes the blame for loss

Updated: 2011-09-08 07:58

By Tang Zhe (China Daily)

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Captain takes the blame for loss

China Yu Hai (left) fights for the ball with Jordan's Anas Bani Yaseen during their 2014 World Cup Asian zone qualifying match in Amman on Tuesday. Jordan won 2-1. [Photo/Agencies]

Veteran skipper Li admits to mistakes in China's World Cup qualifying matches

BEIJING - It seems like Chinese captain Li Weifeng can never escape the spotlight; whether it be returning to the national team with the skipper's armband after three years, or under performing in matches.

The veteran, who lost the ball at midfield in China's World Cup 2-1 qualifying win against Singapore in Kunming last Friday and cost the team a goal, made another mistake against Jordan, when China lost to the home team, 2-1, on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old said he accepted the public's criticism and took full responsibility for his gaffe after the game.

"I admit I have made mistakes in two games and I am not looking for excuses, but it was really hard for me today, because the ball fell into a divot when it hit the ground," said Li, whose mistake enabled the home side to take a decisive 2-0 lead.

"I have the capacity to shoulder the responsibility, and it's natural for fans and media to criticize me when I made mistakes, just like when I play well people praise me," said Li, who distinguished himself as one of the best centerbacks in Asia during his days with the South Korean club Suwon Bluewings, before moving to Chinese Super League club Tianjin Teda in January.

Despite his success in South Korea, Li was only called up to the national team once during former coach Gao Hongbo's tenure, when he needed to organize two national lineups with 50 players to play three friendlies against Honduras and New Zealand at Wuhan and away against Costa Rica at the same time in March.

"I was away from the national team for more than 1,000 days, and it's a big challenge for me to restart in the squad, because all the people, including fans and media, are looking at me," said Li, who returned to the national team as captain after Spanish coach Jose Antonio Camacho took charge of the squad in August. "But I'm strong enough to handle the pressure and I'm not afraid.

Captain takes the blame for loss

"There is always news around Li Weifeng, whether I am the captain, whether I am in the starting list, or even whether I am in the national lineup," said Li, who emerged as one of the national team's star players during the 2002 World Cup qualifiers, but was dropped from the squad three years ago.

"A lot of unexpected things have happened around me, and all I can do is play soccer my way," he said. "I also hope more young players will grow faster to surpass me. That will cement the future of our team."

Yu Hongchen, vice-director of the Chinese Soccer Administrative Center, said introducing more players was already on the agenda.

"The coaching team will watch domestic league games in the next round and communicate with club coaches to enable a coherent strategy between clubs and the national team," Yu said. "Camacho believes we must have more players capable of playing for the country and we will give opportunities to them."

Meanwhile, Yu stressed the Chinese Football Association (CFA) won't meddle in Camacho's players choices.

"We will provide a player list to the coaching team, because they need statistics of players to make choices, but the coach will have the final say in forming his lineup," Yu said. "We just recommend that more new faces should be brought into the squad for the good of the team's long-term development."

Yu also said the CFA was looking for at least one more Spanish translator for the national team before its next training session on Sept 29. Current translator Zhou Yi, who was criticized for his inability to pass on the coach's intentions to the players during training and matches, will stay with the team.

China will play Iraq at home on Oct 11; the venue remains undecided.

China Daily