The Olympic Games have so far left China's football with nothing but poignant memories. They have generally struggled in Asia's Olympic qualifying, booking a place in the global showpiece only once (Seoul 1988), where they packed for home after conceding five unanswered goals in the group stage.
China's poor record at international level, however, did little to dent the hosts' confidence of achieving greatness at Beijing 2008. As the hosts they will receive unprecedented support, and the players are young and talented, with a solid defense, a creative midfield and a loaded front line. The core of the squad comes from the team that reached the second round at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Netherlands 2005.
Although Beijing 2008 only marks their second appearance in the Olympic football tournament, they have set their sights high with a goal of reaching the last four. Despite the recent disruption at the top, with Yin Tiesheng taking over as the executive coach while Serbian Ratomir Dujkovic remains in the coaching staff to lend his knowledge and experience, captain Zheng Zhi believes that the side will be focussed and cohesive. "The majority of the team cut their teeth with the youth team under Yin, so we won't have any problems working together."
Facts and figures
Gao Hongbo (1988)
Dong Fangzhuo (forward), Zheng Zhi (midfield), Li Weifeng (defence)
China automatically qualified as hosts.
The numbers game
0: the number of goals the team scored at their debut at Seoul 1988 and the only appearance at a FIFA World Cup™ finals in Korea/Japan in 2002.