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Cannavaro laments growing gap between China and Japan

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Fabio Cannavaro cast an envious glance at the strength of Japanese football as he picked over the bones of Guangzhou Evergrande's Asian Champions League semi-final exit on Wednesday evening, after Chinese clubs again fell short in the continental championship. It has been four years since Guangzhou reached the final of the competition, when the club won the second of their two continental crowns, but their hopes of ending that drought came unstuck when they lost to Urawa Red Diamonds. A Shinzo Koroki header completed a 3-0 aggregate win for the J.League side, who have reached the final for the second time in three years despite languishing in the lower reaches of their domestic league this season. Urawa's success throws into sharp focus the contrast between standards of play in Japan and China, two nations who should be major on-field rivals. But while the Chinese continue to invest heavily in the sport, Cannavaro believes the gulf has grown and is likely to increase further. "I think there didn't used to be such a gap between Japanese and Chinese teams, but the gap has become wider in the past 20 years," the Italian told reporters after the match. "The Japanese have invested a lot of funds in cultivating football players in the past and they have taken the lead with that strategy. "But in our experience they have more advantages in terms of their physical condition, which could be seen today. Japanese players, when they are competing, they are more engaged and focussed and we can learn from them." Money has poured into the Chinese game in recent years as private business has sought to deliver on president Xi Jinping's desire to see the country become a force in the global game.


World Cup host Qatar sees climate-controlled stadiums as the future

DOHA (Reuters) - On a late September evening in Qatar a persistent 35 degree Celsius heat hung outside the 2022 World Cup host's newly-built Al Janoub stadium, but down on the pitch the temperature was a cool 21 degrees.


Former skipper Hay tasked with steering New Zealand to 2022 World Cup

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand have handed the reins of the national football team to former captain Danny Hay and tasked him with steering the All Whites to qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.


FAM issue partial gag order ahead of World Cup qualifiers

KUALA LUMPUR: The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) have issued a partial gag order on the national team ahead of their second round FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.