New China coach Camacho eyes World Cup

BEIJING - Former Real Madrid coach Jose Antonio Camacho will shoulder China's hopes of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, the Spaniard said after taking charge of the country's national football team on Sunday.

The former Spain coach has signed a three-year contract and replaces Gao Hongbo.

"I know the goal will be taking the Chinese team to a new level and leading the team to the World Cup so there's a lot of work to do and there's also challenge and pressure," Camacho was quoted as saying by state news agency Xinhua.

"Me and my assistants came all the way from Spain and have been working around the clock every day since the negotiations, we want to know better about the country and the job."

China has qualified for the World Cup finals only once when they played in the 2002 edition held in South Korea and Japan but lost all their group matches and failed to score a goal.

In January, they exited the 16-team Asian Cup at the first hurdle after finishing third in Group A behind Uzbekistan and hosts Qatar.

"Football is the most popular game in the world and China is an important country in the world," Camacho said.

"The national side belongs to the country and the people so I wish it could get support from all Chinese people and the media."

China has been grouped with Jordan, Iraq and Singapore in the World Cup Asia Zone third round qualifiers, beginning September 2.

Four Asian teams will qualify directly for the World Cup while one will have the chance to make the finals in Brazil via a two-leg play-off.