Spend­ing huge sum of money counts for lit­tle

New Straits Times - - Sport -

HONG KONG: China needs to fol­low Ja­pan’s lead in de­vel­op­ing youth tal­ent if the coun­try is to have any hope of be­com­ing a global soc­cer force, ac­cord­ing to for­mer UEFA tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor and Scot­land coach Andy Roxburgh.

Chi­nese Su­per League clubs have made head­lines in re­cent years for spend­ing huge sums to lure for­eign stars to East Asia but Roxburgh says it will count for lit­tle if the na­tion does not de­velop a steady stream of play­ers across age-group lev­els.

“Look at China right now: in the youth tour­na­ments, are they one of our teams?” Roxburgh, who cur­rently works as the Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion’s tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor, told Reuters.

“Where are they? You can’t even look at them. If China wants to be good then this is one el­e­ment of it, it’s an in­di­ca­tor and you can’t see the play­ers com­ing.

“The Ja­panese last year they won the Asian un­der-23s, they won the Asian un­der-19s for the first time and they were in the top four in the Asian un­der-16s and there’s tal­ent there.

“It needs to be done over a pe­riod, it’s not about hav­ing one good year.”

The Chi­nese have set their sights on be­com­ing a global foot­ball power but the coun­try’s track record at the high­est level is poor.

China have only ap­peared at one World Cup, in 2002, while the na­tion’s youth teams have con­tin­u­ally strug­gled in re­cent years even at a re­gional level.

The last time the coun­try qual­i­fied for the world youth cham­pi­onships was in 2005, when they ap­peared at both the un­der-17 and un­der-20 edi­tions.

Roxburgh ac­knowl­edges that while sign­ing high pro­file for­eign tal­ent does have its ben­e­fits, China needs to have a mul­ti­fac­eted ap­proach if the coun­try is to suc­ceed.

“Buy­ing a num­ber of star for­eign play­ers helps, be­cause it rubs off,” he said.“So the role mod­els and the Chi­nese play­ers play­ing with some of these great Brazil­ian play­ers will help them to de­velop, it raises the stan­dard.

“But that in it­self is not enough. It needs to have all of the roots for suc­cess.” Reuters

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