Boot camp to bring out China’s best Play­ers se­lected for mil­i­tary-style train­ing as CFA en­lists army’s help

China Daily (Canada) - - SPORTS - By SHI FUTIAN shi­fu­tian@chi­

The Chi­nese Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion has taken dras­tic ac­tion in its bid to re­vive the na­tional team’s for­tunes — to the point of en­list­ing the help of the mil­i­tary’s spe­cial forces.

In a sur­prise move, a to­tal of 55 un­der-25s were last week plucked from the Chi­nese Su­per League and sec­ond-tier League One as se­lectees for a mil­i­tary-style train­ing camp, which started on Mon­day and ends on Dec 28.

Chi­nese me­dia re­ported the CFA is con­sid­er­ing form­ing two teams from the camp to com­pete in next sea­son’s CSL and League One.

On Mon­day it was re­vealed the group will train with a spe­cial forces unit in Tai’an, Shan­dong prov­ince, to im­prove dis­ci­pline and body strength, fol­low­ing three days of phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal tests at Bei­jing Sport Uni­ver­sity this week.

The play­ers are re­quired to “at­tach great im­por­tance” to the train­ing, with any breach of dis­ci­pline pos­si­bly re­sult­ing in sus­pen­sion from the coun­try’s pro­fes­sional leagues.

For­mer na­tional team head coach Shen Xiangfu is lead­ing the train­ing, while fa­mil­iar faces among the play­ers in­clude Bei­jing Guo’an winger Wei Shi­hao and Guangzhou Ever­grande mid­fielder Liao Lisheng, both of whom have been capped at se­nior level.

Shan­dong Luneng is the big­gest con­trib­u­tor to the squad with six play­ers; Guangzhou Ever­grande is next with five.

The sud­den na­ture of the process has not gone down well with clubs, given that they will be with­out their young tal­ent for the fi­nal six league matches. Both Guo’an and Luneng will be mi­nus their young­sters for the two-legged CFA Cup fi­nal.

“The rea­son why Chi­nese soc­cer has not im­proved is be­cause of its man­age­ment. The same mis­takes have been re­peated over and over and over again,” said Guo’an chair­man Zhou Jin­hui.

“If we re­peat the same mis­takes, the fu­ture is in­evitable.

“The only way to change that is to change the man­age­ment meth­ods and to re­spect the nat­u­ral law of soc­cer de­vel­op­ment.

“On the one hand, we have to build a solid foun­da­tion from the soc­cer pyra­mid. On the other, we have to con­tinue to de­velop the leagues at the top of pyra­mid to make them more pro­fes­sional and per­for­mance

Zhou’s frus­tra­tion is likely to in­crease if a re­port in the Bei­jing Evening News proves cor­rect.

The news­pa­per on Mon­day claimed the CFA is plan­ning to di­vide the train­ing group into two teams to com­pete in the CSL and China First Divi­sion League next sea­son.

A sim­i­lar idea was im­ple­mented in 1988, when leg­endary coach Xu Gen­bao helmed a group of young na­tional team re­serves, lead­ing them to the 1989 top-flight ti­tle but fail­ing to qual­ify for the 1992 Olympic Games.

Xu re­fused to com­ment on the new train­ing camp but in 2010 said of his 1989 cham­pi­ons: “The na­tional team that I led had great re­sults in the pro­fes­sional league that time, but now ev­ery­thing is more mar­ket-ori­ented.

“We have to con­sider the clubs’ in­ter­ests. If a player leaves his club for the na­tional team, that could re­sult in the club’s rel­e­ga­tion.

“The spon­sors could then stop their in­vest­ment, which could threaten the de­vel­op­ment of clubs.”

In the shorter term, the train­ing camp is seen as prepa­ra­tion for the ex­pected de­par­ture of na­tional team coach Mar­cello Lippi, with the Ital­ian re­cently re­veal­ing that he is un­likely to re­new his con­tract when it ex­pires af­ter the Asian Cup in Jan­uary.

China has only qual­i­fied for one World Cup, in 2002.

A mil­i­tary-style train­ing ef­fort in 2007 failed to fire the coun­try to the 2010 fi­nals in South Africa.

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