I never expected China to win the Asian Cup (well, to be honest, a part of me thought it could be done), but I also never expected (though I could forsee it) that we'd be knocked out in the group stage. The one thing that makes the loss a bit easier to accept is that I failed to get myself fully involved in the match as I had prior plans which meant I only watched the first half (yes, amazing as it seems, I've something resembling a life away from the office). That meant that I saw the subbing of Mao before the end of the first half, something that could only ellicit laughter at this point (much like Zhu's lineup which saw no fewer than 3 players arguably playing out of position). What it also meant, though, is that I missed the 3 goals and thus didn't suffer the gut-wrenching pain of seeing us go down once again and fail to pull ourselves out of the hole we dug. So what's new? Its an unfortunate thing to say, but I really can't remember the last time China was able to come up with a late comeback to win or draw a game. It's as if once they're down by a goal or two, the game's over and the press is already writing the negative headlines.
So what can I say? Set pieces. Against Malaysia I was saying how weak our defense looked against set pieces, Iran scored their goals on set pieces, and once again crappy defense of set pieces, despite the height in the lineup, killed us.
I honestly believe with decent coaching strategies and the right lineup, the semifinals and even the finals wasn't too much to ask for, but Zhu's strange insistance on a 4-5-1, goofy substitions, and overall strange lineup selection cost the team dearly. I was confident even before the Cup began that Zhu would be fired, now I think its a given (if he doesn't choose to resign in shame first).
It's time the CFA really make some changes, many fans have been saying that for years, but hopefully CFA will finally do something. Failure to get out of the group stage is truly embarassing, especially considering the strength of our squad and how unnecessary it is for us to be in this position. A new coach, one with some fire in his belly and a solid soccer background, whether Chinese or foreign, will be the first step.