China takes Spanish steps to international revival

BEIJING - China are hoping to continue to revive their international football fortunes by emulating the tactics of European and world champions Spain, according to coach Gao Hongbo.

Gao has lost just twice in 22 matches since taking over last year, a run that has included wins over France and South Korea as well draws with Germany and Japan.

The 44-year-old said the World Cup finals in South Africa, where Spain and Netherlands reached the final playing a similar style of football, had vindicated China's decision to base their tactics on a five-man midfield behind a lone striker.

"I believe as long as we follow this (Spanish) way, Chinese football will be able to make everybody happy," Gao told the Guangzhou Daily.

The on-pitch renaissance has not only boosted China up to 78th in the FIFA rankings from an all-time low of 108th last year but provided a welcome distraction from the corruption scandal that erupted earlier this year.

China face Bahrain in Nanning later on Wednesday before friendlies against Iran on September 3 and Paraguay four days later as they prepare for the Asian Cup in Qatar in January.

Gao said the friendlies would give him an idea of where his squad stood relative to their rivals before January's continental championship, which China has never won.

"We will know our Asian rivals better after a number of scheduled friendlies," he told the China Daily.

"We will also see what our problems are. We have the Asian Cup next year and we have World Cup qualifiers. Every match from now on will provide very good experience and a test for us."

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