Poisoned chalice for 'Queen Elisabeth'
Women's coach gets flak from former incumbent
She may be dubbed 'Queen Elisabeth' by the Chinese media and has yet to pick a squad for a game. But the newly crowned boss of the mainland's national women's Olympic team already has jeering turncoats at the palace gates.
Bitter former Chinese women's coach Ma Liangxing - who left his position in January because of illness and then had his request to return denied by the China Football Association - claims the latest manager, Frenchwoman Elisabeth Loisel, has no chance of reigning victorious at next year's Beijing's Olympics.
'I don't think she can do something with the Chinese team, whose resources are very limited. No matter who coaches this team, it would be very hard to succeed in the major international tournaments,' Ma said yesterday.
'When Elisabeth coached the French team, they made convincing progress. But the mastermind behind that was Aime Jacquet, the coach of the 1998 men's World Cup winning team. Elisabeth contributed little to their achievement,' he added.
Ma's attack follows his drawn-out exit from the team during which he refused to resign, even though the CFA said they didn't want him back after he recovered from heart problems.
Little wonder. The team he left to caretaker Wang Haiming crashed embarrassingly out of the Algarve Cup in March with six consecutive defeats - including a wince- inducing thrashing from minnows Iceland.
Ma's full-time replacement was former Sweden women's boss Marika Domanski-Lyfors, who became the team's first-ever foreign coach and headed the hosts at the Fifa Women's World Cup in July.
But Domanski-Lyfors went the same way as Ma, and quit the post last month after just seven months in the job, citing 'health and family problems'.
Despite China losing on home soil in the World Cup quarter-finals to Norway, the CFA were keen for her to lead the side at next summer's 2008 Beijing Olympics.
But the Chinese media claimed the true reason for her departure was a power struggle with the CFA over who managed the team.
In stepped Loisel last month, to take up what many now see as a poisoned chalice and keep China's aspirations alive. With struggling, divided men's national and Olympic teams, the women should again be expected to hold up half the sky at next year's tournament.
Her first task is to pick her charges up after the World Cup disappointment and instil them with confidence.'The girls are more committed than I expected,' Loisel said yesterday. 'They have the basics to make something. I have designed a meticulous plan for them.'
'I am sure if we can execute the plan well, the nine months leading up to the Olympics are enough for them to prepare themselves. Time is not a problem,' she said.
As Chinese football fans look frantically at their watches, they will do well not to recall another famous queen - Marie Antoinette.