After being offered more than one million dollars as a reward, China's national soccer team players have vowed to play for their lives and qualify for the 2010 World Cup, state press said yesterday.
Chinese national football team members are pictured here at a training session during the Asian Football Cup, in Kuala Lumpur, in July 2007. After being offered more than one million dollars as a reward, China's national football team players have vowed to play for their lives and qualify for the 2010 World Cup. [Agencies]
In a New Year's pledge, the national side gathered to read an oath to the country, vowing to take China through Asia's "group of death" and into the World Cup finals for only the second time, the Beijing Youth Daily said.
"I pledge to advance to the World Cup, which is the professional goal that we strive for," the players recited on Tuesday, according to the paper.
"We swear by death to kill along the bloody road of defending the honor of the motherland and realize our youthful dreams."
The China Football Association also vowed to pay the team eight million yuan ($1.09 million) if they qualified for the World Cup, the paper said.
On top of that, the team would receive 500,000 yuan for each victory over a nation ranked in the world top 50 and 300,000 yuan for each win over a lower ranked team.
During the draw in November for the qualifying rounds, China was placed in the "group of death" - pitted against Australia, Asian champions Iraq and Asian Games winners Qatar.
Only group winners and runners-up go through to the final qualifying stage.
"The result of the grouping was the worst in the history of the China team. Today's draw was a big shock and upset for our football sector," manager Wei Shaohui told the official Xinhua news agency after the draw.
China has qualified for the World Cup finals only once, in 2002, when it was eliminated in the first round after losing all its matches and without scoring a goal.