If a Coach is Named in the Forest...

The Chinese Football Association (CFA), the much maligned organization formerly headed by the hated Xie Yalong, has completed its search for the next Chinese men's soccer (football) team coach and it is...wait for it...Wang Baoshan. It's such a big story that not even People's Daily/Xinhuanet bothered carrying it in their English editions.

With China knocked out of qualification for the 2010 World Cup and only a few boring friendlies on the horizon, the next year or so will be incredibly dull for fans of the Chinese national team. The CFA limited their "search" to domestic candidates, they claimed the limitation was due to economic considerations, a fair point, but what international coach in his right mind wants to come to a team where they'll be able to coach in nothing more than friendlies for the next 2 years?

Even when considering the numerous domestic options, the choice of Wang seems strange. His Shenzhen side currently sits 14th in the CSL standings in 3rd to last place and is (?) in the midst of a relegation battle. (or possibly saved by Wuhan being removed from the league). Most of the articles are so bold as to state that the search basically narrowed down to 6 options, Shen Xiangfu, Yin Tiesheng, Gao Hongbo, Cheng Yaodong, Wu Jingui and Wang. Out of the 6, Wang is by far the least famous/experienced/accomplished, so is it any surprise the CFA chose him? The choice was based on his knowledge of the players as he served as an assistant under the previous manager.

To call the CFA's debate over who should become the new coach a "search" is almost laughable, considering the position has remained open for nearly 6 months and the end result is that all the usual suspects were trotted out. What is interesting is that no mention of former players like Fan Zhiyi or Hao Haidong was made as part of the search. Granted, neither have any previous real coaching experience, but that hasn't stopped even better footballing nations and sides from throwing players into the fire. Plus, with the calls for a new revolution of Chinese football, it might take a firebrand like Hao to actually deliver.

The choice of Wang as the next head coach doesn't inspire me to believe that the next few years are going to see Chinese soccer improve very much. It may be hard to believe, but its possible we've yet to see the national team hit rock bottom.

It's tough being a Chinese soccer fan, which is probably why so few exist anymore.

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