China vows to be among the elite by 2010
New marketing guru lays out ambitious plan to bring mainland global respect
China's new troubleshooting football tsar has promised millions of disgruntled fans international glory by the next World Cup.
The Chinese Football Association's new marketing expert, Wong Yingquan, said China was about to embark on a no-expense-spared trophy hunt as the national game underwent a revolution thanks to 'a new kind of relationship'.
'I can promise fans things are going to change from August, and China will become an international footballing force by the  Olympics and the next World Cup. We will have something to cheer about,' said Wong, the general manager of Infrontasia, the CFA's international marketing partner.
He said the CFA was poised to spend 'millions of dollars to rid the game of scandal, hire the best coaches, obtain the best training facilities, and get the best players'.
A new, young team would be assembled for the 2008 Olympics, which would then springboard China on to the footballing map during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, said Wong.
'We are going to have a cleanout. We are going to hire the best head coaches and they can choose their own staff. We are building partnerships with European clubs, including Chelsea, and our young players will regularly attend training at these clubs.
'We are building new academies with the latest training technology,' said Wong, who joined CFA chiefs during a headhunting campaign at the World Cup in Germany.
Frenchman Philippe Troussier and Dutchman Van Hanegem emerged as the two favourites from a field of 10 international mangers interviewed.
Yesterday, Serbia & Montenegro's outgoing coach, Ilija Petkovic, threw his hat in the ring, saying he was open to talk about the vacant coaching post for China's national side.
'We haven't heard anything from Petkovic but the position is still vacant so if he has the right qualifications and experience, he's welcome to apply,' said Wong, who previously worked for global sports and media giant IMG.
He added: 'Whoever is chosen as head coach will be allowed to choose whoever they like as their backroom training staff. If they want foreigners, they can have foreigners. We want a full training strategy, including a dedicated goalkeeping coach, nutritional, scouting and psychological preparations.'
The brash plan will be welcome news to the estimated 250 million football fans forced to cheer on other teams during the World Cup because their national side crashed out early in the qualifying stages.
Two years ago, China suffered a humiliating home defeat in the Asian Cup final to arch-rivals Japan.
An editorial this week by Xinhua chastised 'those football celebrities who have just retired' from the national side to become paid media pundits during the competition.
'No matter they are suspected fraud footballers, or are blamed for our World Cup failure ... they have become experts and stars overnight. They gossip about the competition and about Brazil, Holland, Germany and England. They are completely unaware they are not qualified to do this at all,' wrote Xinhua sportswriter Wang Zijiang.
In the last eight years, Chinese football has been rocked by a raft of scandals from match-fixing, bribery and doping.
Like many Chinese fans, Zhou Anfu, 26, follows overseas clubs because he finds domestic games 'too boring and full of cheats'.
'I don't want to hear anything about Chinese football because it's going to take at least 50 years to get anywhere. Some people say China is going to hold the 2018 World Cup. I think that is impossible. Chinese football is just too bad,' he said.