TIANJIN: China’s dejected coach Vladimir Petrovic accepted the blame for his side’s failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup yesterday, while fans called for the head of the FA’s top man.
China’s 2-1 loss to Asian champions Iraq in Tianjin ended their quest for a berth in South Africa after three draws and two losses in Group One.
“Of course I am responsible, I have a lot of responsibility, but as far as what kind of responsibility, that is up to the FA to decide,” said Petrovic.
The future of Petrovic, who teamed with China’s Olympic football coach and fellow Serb Ratomir Dujkovic to steer the national side, remains uncertain.
But according to fans, the real responsibility for China’s under-achievement lies with the head of the China Football Association Xie Yalong.
“Sack Xie Yalong, sack Xie Yalong,” fans at Tianjin’s Olympic “Water Drop” Stadium shouted, according to sports website Sina.com as China’s dreams of another World Cup appearance went up in flames.
China scored a dismal two goals in their five matches in the so-called Group of Death that also included Qatar and Australia.
While accepting the blame, Petrovic also pointed to bad luck after Iraqi defenders cleared two goal-bound efforts off the line after goalkeeper Noor Abbas had been beaten.
“Luck is a quintessential part of the sport and it evaded us,” Petrovic said. “We had two golden chances. Unfortunately, they were both saved on the goal-line.”
Iraq’s Nashat Akram won the match with a 65th minute goal that came after he latched on to a pass from Salih Sadir on the right wing, beat his man and sent the ball into the corner of the net.
China had taken the lead when they were awarded a free-kick just outside the penalty area in the 32nd minute. Captain Zheng Zhi tapped the ball to Zhou Haibing who slammed it through a crowd of defenders into the goal.
Seven minutes later, Salih Sadir took a long pass down the right wing and fired a cross on to the head Emad Mohammed who nodded home to make it 1-1.
China have only qualified for the World Cup Finals once, under another Serb, Bora Milutinovic, and they were knocked out in the first round without scoring a goal in South Korea and Japan in 2002.
During last week’s 1-0 loss at home to Qatar, they fielded a team of largely Under-23 players who will represent them at the Beijing Olympics, prompting the media to suggest the CFA had already given up on their World Cup hopes.
China has been drawn alongside one of the favourites, Brazil, as well as Belgium and New Zealand. – AFP