We played a big part: Hong Kong soccer chief says China's draws against 'little brother' led to Alain Perrin’s downfall
Decision is no great surprise, says chairman Brian Leung, after Hong Kong twice thwarted mainland favourites
Hong Kong played a role in the sacking of China national team coach Alain Perrin after confirmation from the mainland that the Frenchman was told to leave after a meeting with Chinese officials on Thursday.
Following a disappointing 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, including twice being held by Hong Kong, Perrin’s departure had been expected for a while.
“They did not do very well in the qualifications and the results always matter, not only in China but any part of the world,” said Hong Kong Football Association chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak.
“Of course our two draws against them did contribute a great deal, but China also lost to Qatar under Perrin.
“Now they are unlikely to make it to the next round of the qualifiers and the decision does not come as a big surprise.”
China were the top seeds in group C when the qualification draw was made in April last year, but they have struggled against supposed lesser teams and currently sit third in the group after six matches with 11 points – behind Qatar and Hong Kong, who are second and have only a very slim hope of catching leaders Qatar, who have 18 points.
Even if China win both of their remaining two group matches, against Maldives and Qatar at home, to finish second in the group, they will face a best runner-up scenario with seven other second-placed teams across qualifying. Only the four teams with the best record progress to the next phase with the eight group winners.
China have not qualified for the World Cup Finals since 2002, when they capitalised on powerhouses Japan and South Korea qualifying automatically as co-hosts.
Perrin insisted he would not quit after his last match in charge – a goalless draw with Hong Kong at Mong Kok Stadium on November 17, but the Chinese FA stepped in and made the decision for him.
It is believed Perrin reported for duty as normal on Thursday after returning from holidays but was told at a meeting he was no longer needed by Chinese Football Association vice chairman Wei Jixiang, according to reports from Sina.com.
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The report also said no successor had been found and if they could not find a suitable candidate before the two qualifying matches in March, China would likely be led by an interim local coach.