China coach defiant despite poor form

BEIJING - Defiant China coach Gao Hongbo has brushed off his side's recent disappointing form and promised to lead his country to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"Our target is to secure qualifying for the 2014 World Cup," Gao told Wednesday's China Daily after two flat performances from China.

"Every game before next June, including the Asian Cup, is a warm-up process for the World Cup qualifiers, which means we do not set specific goals for those games."

Gao's side were beaten 2-0 by Asian rivals Iran last Friday before holding World Cup quarter-finalists Paraguay to a 1-1 draw in Nanjing on Tuesday.

The 44-year-old has come under fire since accepting a job which has proved something of a poisoned chalice for many of his predecessors.

"Chinese football has been on a downhill path over the past six years," said Gao, the youngest man ever to coach the national side.

"Football is the most complicated sport in the world and it is hard to explain where the problem comes from. If you could figure out the problem, it would have been solved already."

Gao urged Chinese fans to be patient and reserve judgement until January's Asian Cup in Qatar.

"People should lower their expectations," he said. "We will finish player selection and strategy establishment (for World Cup qualifying) by the Asian Cup."

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