By Sportswriter Ma Bangjie
BEIJING, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- Huge expectations pinned upon the Chinese men's soccer team turned into public outrage when the hosts were bundled out of contention at the Beijing Olympic Games.
The Chinese under-23 team had targeted a top-four spot at the men's Olympic tournament, which turned out to be wishful thinking as they were thrashed by Brazil 3-0 in their final group match on Wednesday and failed to qualify for the quarterfinals.
What led to their fiasco was the 2-0 loss to Belgium in their second group match where two players were expelled for gross misconduct.
They collected only one point from one draw and two losses, and became an incongruity among the Chinese Olympic contingent who are going on an impressive gold spree.
"The Beijing Olympics could have been a good opportunity for the Chinese soccer team to make historical breakthrough, as they enjoyed the home advantage and an easy group," said Fan Zhiyi, former captain of Chinese national team.
"We all held out huge expectations of them, they were the top priority of Chinese soccer agenda, their preparations seemed well on track. And they stood a good chance to beat New Zealand and Belgium before meeting Brazil.
"It should have been a chance for Chinese soccer to be honored, but in the end it was dishonored. What has gone wrong there?
"The FA officials need to reflect upon themselves. Now Chinese soccer is confronted with the biggest ever crisis, our grassroots is withering, our professional league is also spiraling downward and can produce few quality players. Who should be responsible for all these mess-ups?" he asked.
Li Chengpeng, a soccer-writer whose typical wisecracks earned him a considerable fanbase, pledged never to write about soccer following Chinese team's humiliating exit at the Olympic Games.
"I think I have had enough. I wrote about soccer because it brought me some fun, but now what I got from Chinese soccer was sheer hurt and disappointment. So I decided to call it quits," he said.
Chinese Football newspaper published a series of articles on Friday criticizing Chinese Football Association officials for their incompetence.
"From the establishment of the team less than two years ago, over 10 millions yuan had been spent on them. All that time and money had gone down the drain," one of its articles said.