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'Chinese football lacks identity': Arie Haan

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-06-11 10:03

AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands - Arie Haan, former coach of China and former Dutch international, thinks current Chinese football misses an identity of its own, he told to Xinhua.

Haan was coach of the Chinese national team in 2003 and 2004 and finished as runners-up at the Asian Cup in 2004. In recent years he worked for Chinese clubs Chongqing Lifan, Tianjin Teda and Shenyang Shenbei. Over the last ten years he did not notice improvement in Chinese football.

"There is no continuity," said Haan to Xinhua. "When I left the national team I already said that China needs to build its own identity. That may change slowly over time, but that identity must be there."

"The Netherlands has its own identity and for instance the Belgians and the Germans as well," the 64-year-old coach added. "A club like Ajax hires coaches matching with Ajax. They know how the club and the players must play.

"In China there are far too many changes. First they take a defensive coach, and then a tactical trainer. The continuity is missing. What are they building now? Look at the final of the Europa League match in May between Benfica and Chelsea. If you would change the shirts, you would still know which team is Benfica, thanks to their identity. China still has no identity." Haan said.

After failing to qualify for the 2006 World Cup Haan was succeeded as coach of China by Zhu Guanghu, then followed by Serbian Vlado Petrovic, Yin Tiesheng and Gao Hongbo. The Spaniard Jose Antonio Camacho took over the helm in August 2011 and failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

"In my time I emphasized positioning, the typical Dutch school," said Haan. "That worked fine. Then other trainers arrived with other ideas. Chinese trainers generally only think in terms of results. Gao Hongbo, who was my assistant, brought the football back a little bit again, but then came another foreigner, a Spaniard, a former defender."

"China has good players, but they have learned little recently. With Camacho they have a defensive coach and now almost every game they play with a completely different team. Dutchman Jan Olde Riekerink is coach of Under 20. Which is also strange, to have a Spaniard as first team coach and a Dutchman as youth coach. They have very different ideas. Again, the continuity is missing. I would take a Dutch or French trainer, as I said when I left."

On Tuesday China and the Netherlands play a friendly in Beijing. According to Haan, China can learn from Dutch football. "Especially the positioning and reading of a match. Speed will be no problem for the Chinese, heading will be no problem, passing no problem and technique neither. What is lacking, is to play as a team. In that sense, the Chinese do not understand football very well. They are all individualists. China is especially good at individual sports. As a team the Netherlands is obviously much stronger, much further because they know what to expect from teammates."

"To win the Netherlands should not go along with the Chinese pace of the game," expects Haan. "Otherwise they might have problems. If the Netherlands dominates the pace, it will be 3-1, 4-1 for the Dutch.

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