Ma's football move

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 March, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 March, 1994, 12:00am

CHINA's most celebrated and controversial athletics coach, Ma Junren, has taken on the additional task of training the country's premier football team, Xinhua (the New China News Agency) reported yesterday.

Ma was called in by local government officials from his secret mountain training camp in southwest China after half the members of the Liaoning Football Team, which has won the national championship for the last 10 years, failed their annual fitness test.

The squad's failure meant Liaoning had ''no alternative'' but to ask for the Ma's help, Cui Dalin, vice-chairman of the provincial Physical Culture and Sports Commission, said.

With Ma's help, Mr Cui said he hoped the players who flunked the first test would be able to pass a secondary exam.

The introduction of coach Ma to the Liaoning Football Team comes at a time when China's top team is under the cloud of an investigation by the Chinese Football Association for allegedly throwing a match during the Asian Club Championships last month.