Chinese fans round on national team after Asian Cup 'disaster'

By AFP   January 23, 2024 | 04:51 am PT
Angry Chinese fans rounded on their football team on Tuesday after a "disastrous" defeat to hosts Qatar left them needing a miracle to qualify for the knockout stages of the Asian Cup.
China (in light blue) during the Asian Cup match with Qatar on Jan. 22, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa

China (in light blue) during the Asian Cup match with Qatar on Jan. 22, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa

A sensational volley by Hassan Al-Haydos sealed a 1-0 win for the holders on Monday to leave China winless and goalless after three games, and relying on an unlikely series of results elsewhere to progress.

Coach Aleksandar Jankovic lamented a string of missed chances but found little sympathy from fans weary of years of underachievement.

President Xi Jinping once said he wanted his country to win the World Cup.

Fans at the stadium in Doha shouted "You should be ashamed of yourselves" and ironically chanted "Happy new year" towards the players at the end, the game coming ahead of China's biggest holiday.

"To reconstruct after this disaster, we must act quickly to change the coach, get the basics right and stop the rot," wrote sports pundit Wang Jianxiang on social media platform Weibo.

Another pundit, Ji Yuyang, said: "The Asian Cup has made us see clearly how many countries in Asia are improving their level of football. China isn't just standing still - we're fully regressing.

"Is this rock bottom? Are you sure we're even there yet?" he wrote on Weibo.

China began the tournament with two dour 0-0 draws against Tajikistan and Lebanon, and were toothless once more as they slid to defeat.

"It's shameful that, even in a group like this, we have gone three games without a goal or a win," sports pundit Zhao Yu was quoted as saying in local media.

The defeat to Qatar quickly trended on the Twitter-like Weibo, where a popular hashtag had racked up 180 million views in the hours following the defeat.

An air of resignation hung over some fans following what they saw as an all-too-predictable outcome.

Some pointed the finger at revelations of deep-seated corruption in the domestic game.

State broadcaster CCTV this month aired a documentary in which former coach Li Tie admitted to involvement in match-fixing and paying bribes to secure the top job.

A crackdown on graft has also ensnared a string of football association officials.

"After so many years of corruption, it's no wonder we've got no talent left on the pitch," wrote one social media user.

go to top