China can challenge for World Cup glory by 2026, says former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson
Shanghai SIPG manager believes China, buoyed by the power and influence of president Xi Jinping, can push for World Cup glory in a decade
Shanghai SIPG boss Sven-Goran Eriksson believes China, buoyed by the power and influence of president Xi Jinping, can put aside years of failure at international level and push for World Cup glory in a decade.
The Swede’s club has, like many Chinese Super League sides, invested heavily of late in new players and facilities after football fan Xi demanded soccer officials improve on just one disappointing group stage exit at the 2002 World Cup.
China are in danger of an early exit from 2018 World Cup qualifying in Asia but Eriksson, who managed the Ivory Coast at the 2010 tournament in South Africa, said the Asians would quickly see the returns on their multi-million dollar investment.
“Ten years ahead, 15 years ahead, I am quite sure that the China national team will compete to win the World Cup,” he told reporters on Tuesday ahead of their AFC Champions League opener away to Melbourne Victory on Wednesday.
“The future for China is great.”
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The much-travelled 68-year-old coach made his managerial name after winning titles in Portugal with Benfica and Lazio in Italy before taking over as England coach and later Manchester City.
Eriksson moved to China with Guangzhou R&F in 2013 before taking over at Shanghai a year later and led them to a runner-up Super League finish last term after signing Argentine Dario Conca and Ghanaian Asamoah Gyan.
He said his move to the burgeoning football market of China had been another fortunate step in his career.
“I think I am at the right place at the right time,” said the Swede, who also managed Mexico, Sampdoria and Leicester City and held technical positions at clubs in Dubai and Thailand.
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“I’ve been lucky. I was in Italy during the ’90s when every football player wanted to come to Italy because there was more money and the football was very, very good.
“Then the 2000s, the English Premier League, all the players wanted to go there.
“Now 2016, it seems like every football player wants to come to China.
“For Chinese football it’s very, very good.”