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Goal of becoming a soccer powerhouse rests with youth

Goal of becoming a soccer powerhouse rests with youth

Jason 2016-03-31 15:43:38
While the dream of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup is alive, China has a long way to go to ensure international soccer success, something insiders say would get a boost from developing the game among the nation's youth.

After 15 years of waiting to see the national team qualify for a FIFA World Cup, China has made it to the final Asian qualifying round after beating group leader Qatar, 2-0, in a crucial pool-stage match on Tuesday in front of 5,000 cheering home fans in Xi'an.

"China's poor international performance brought us only heartbreaking memories for years, so it's really exciting for us this time around to have something to cheer about. As long as the national team plays with guts and determination, as it did this time, we will support it forever, regardless of the outcome," said Wang Wen, chairman of Beijing Football Fan Club.

Gao, a former national striker, took over when China was left with only a chance of advancing that depended on other teams' results.

As China aims to develop into a world soccer power - inspired by President Xi Jinping's wish to see it eventually win the World Cup - the celebrations for making it deep into the qualifying tournament and distractions about the appointment of a coach will need to give way to more focus on youth development at the grassroots level, said Jin Zhiyang, a renowned youth coach in Beijing.

"We need to invest more in building facilities, training local coaches and organizing student leagues than in praying for the 2018 World Cup. That is what will help the game to rise substantially," said Jin.

"Our youth cultivation system should catch up, as well as the school promotion programs," he said.

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