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China plunges to new low after defeat to Syria

THE plunging fortunes of China's national soccer team have continued with a loss to lowly ranked Syria in the opening match of qualifying for the 2011 Asian Cup.

Already eliminated from the 2010 World Cup and having gone without a win in three games at the Beijing Olympics, China went down 2-3 away to Syria.

The result indicates no upturn in fortunes for the team under caretaker coach Yin Tiesheng, who was handed the crisis-plagued men's team a month ago and has lost four of five games since.

"Compared with a month ago, we can't see any improvement in the team, and some players are playing worse," The China Sports Daily said yesterday.

Despite its success in topping the gold-medal standings at the Olympics, China is making little headway in soccer, failing to produce much talent. The country has few grassroot programs.

The Chinese Super League has been plagued with violence and charges of match-fixing and has failed to nurture the nation's limited talent.

The men's program has lurched through a series of failures and forays with China-born and foreign coaches. Yin's temporary position is expected to evaluated later this month.

The only victory for Yin, who replaced Serbian Vladimir Petrovic, was 1-0 in a friendly against Jordan last month. In the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, China won only one of its six games, while losing to Iraq and Qatar, to be eliminated at the first group stage.

"The Chinese keep slipping, capable of losing to any team," read the top headline in Beijing Daily yesterday.

The head of the China Football Association Xie Yalong, who faced widespread criticism, was replaced by his deputy Nan Yong late on Wednesday.

Despite the chaos, the CFA is still considering bidding to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup finals. China has qualified only once for the World Cup finals, in 2002 under Serb coach Bora Milutinovic, the only man to take five nations to World Cups, and lost all three games.

China has slipped to No. 104 in the latest rankings of FIFA, the world governing body of football. This puts China just behind Malawi, and just ahead of Syria and Fiji.

The rankings came out before the loss to Syria, which led 3-0 after 38 minutes with two goals from Maher al-Said. Qu Bo and Liu Jian scored second-half goals for China.


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