Battling away in brazil and spain

Updated: 2013-03-10 08:04

(China Daily)

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A 4-0 defeat at the 2002 World Cup and an 8-0 humiliating loss in a friendly last September- China's two fiascos against Brazil - appear to provide a true gauge of the gap between the two countries.

However, at the beginning of this year, Chinese teenagers showed that massive gulf might be narrowing when they beat their Brazilian counterparts, the Boy Town team, 4-1 in the final shootout of the Youth Cup Under-17 Championships in the state of Sao Paulo. In doing so, they became the first foreign team to claim the title in the tournament's 20-year history.

In a bid to enhance young Chinese talents and boost the nation's program in the long term, 45 Chinese teenagers have been sent to Brazil's Botafogo Academy in Sao Paulo in three batches over the past two years.

Apart from the victory of the Under-17 team, five Chinese Under-16 players finished as runners-up with their local club in that age-group tournament.

"There are so many Chinese fans that care about these kids; such results are a reward for their hard work over the past two years and I believe it will inspire the kids to learn a lot more here," Chinese paper Titan Sports quoted the Brazilian coach of the Chinese Under-17 team at the soccer academy as saying.

In Spain, another soccer powerhouse, 30 Chinese teens have spent six months training with the youth teams of La Liga clubs Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Villarreal.

The program is part of the CFA's multi-million dollar deal with Chinese company Dalian Wanda, in which the company has promised to provide 200 million yuan ($32 million) to send 90 Chinese teenage players to play with the youth teams of the three clubs for three years.

The person responsible for the program in Valencia told Chinese website that the Chinese players were working very hard but their biggest difficulties were the language barrier and a lack of ball sense; problems which, he believes, can be easily resolved.

Tang Zhe

(China Daily 03/10/2013 page8)