Young footballers strive to reach knockout stage

Updated: 2011-08-14 12:42

By Wang Qingyun in Shenzhen and Liu Shanshan in Beijing (

Young footballers strive to reach knockout stage

Players of the Chinese men's Universiade football team practice during a training session in Longgang district in Shenzhen, Aug 13, 2011. [Photo by Wang Qingyun/]

It's "very hard to say" if the Chinese men's football team can make it to the knockout stage at this Universiade, said Jin Zhiyang, the head coach of this young squad based on the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT)'s football team, the only Chinese college football club to play in China's second-tier league.

Jin answered questions from media at a training session two days after his team's first Universiade show, when China tied with Namibia 1-1 last Thursday.

China battles with Namibia, Colombia and South Korea during the group stage of the tournament. Currently scoring one point and now sharing second place with Namibia, the host team will play Colombia at 7:30 pm on Sunday and play South Korea on Aug 16.

Also on Aug 11, South Korea beat the jet-lagged Colombia after the latter was more than five hours late for the game that was supposed to take place at 4:30 pm because of a delayed flight.

Jin said before their second appearance that he hadn't had a specific objective for his team to reach at this Universiade, but hoped the young players would strive to advance from their group, especially as they share it with archrival South Korea.

"We will try to get into the knockout stage. Even if we fail, we will try our best to show the morale and spirit of Chinese university students… We should ensure our qualification for the next Unviersiade in Moscow by securing a place in the top 13 teams," Jin said when China Daily website asked him whether the team would realize his expectation.

Jin seemed satisfied by the performance of his players during the tied-match, stressing that it was the first time the 11 footballers had played an official game together, though he said they may need to better preserve their energy. "They (the players) told me they have 'so much passion but a lack of careful thinking'. They exerted too much energy during the first half," said Jin.

Young footballers strive to reach knockout stage

Jin Zhiyang, the head coach of the Chinese men's Universiade football team, poses for a picture during a training session in Longgang district in Shenzhen, Aug 13, 2011. [Photo by Wang Qingyun/]

The team lost a goal to Namibia in the fifth minute of the first half, but Fan Zhiqiang scored an equalizer in the 19th minute with teammate Yang Yang's free-kick assist.

Captain Lu Bin hit a header in the 12th minute, but the shot flew outside the far post. "I had quite a few chances to score with a header, but I was a bit nervous and lost them," Lu said. "That wouldn't have happened if I were playing in China's league.

"We were so eager to show ourselves in the first half, and lost stamina," said the defender captain.

But according to Lu, the upcoming group-stage clash with Colombia has left the budding players no time to feel nervous. "Tomorrow's game is very important (for us to make the knockout stage)."

Yang Yang, China's first professional soccer player to also be studying for a PhD, agreed with Lu Bin, saying "The players were excited but nervous for their first game, and they seemed a little overcautious. We should get better at taking chances next time."

The BIT football club is a "half-professional team" currently playing in the China League One, the second-tier professional league for Chinese football clubs. They began to play in this league in 2007 after they won the championship title of China's third-tier professional league, which they played in not as a professional club, but as the highest ranking university team in the country.

What makes the team special is its players. All of them, including a few foreign students, are full-time students from the School of Management and Economics of the college, and spend only two hours a day on football training. The team is ranked at the bottom of the China League One scoreboard, and is on the verge of relegation.

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Shenzhen is located at the southern tip of the Chinese mainland on the eastern bank of the mouth of the Pearl River and neighbors Hong Kong.

The brainchild of Deng Xiaoping, the country's first special economic zone was established here by the Chinese Government in 1980. It has been a touchstone for China's reform and opening-up policy since then.