World Cup ties give China impossible dilemma

November 29, 2007

BEIJING, Nov 29 (Reuters) - China coach Ratomir Dujkovic said forcing his team to play their World Cup qualifiers before the end of June presents him with an impossible dilemma as he tries to balance the interests of the senior and Olympic teams.

A report on the China Football Association (CFA) website said the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) had demanded that all six qualifiers against Australia, Iraq and Qatar be played more than a month before the Beijing Olympics.

That schedule puts pressure on Serb Dujkovic who took over the Olympic team last October before being given overall control of the senior team when Zhu Guanghu was sacked in September, with compatriot Vladimir Petrovic working under him.

'It is an unbelievable death sentence,' Dujkovic told Thursday's Soccer News newspaper.

'I can find no way out ... I must concentrate on the Olympics but I can't put aside the senior team as I'm the general manager ... If the national team fails to qualify, the Olympic team might lose the support of the Chinese people...

'If Petrovic and I cannot get through the group stage I can't and don't want to imagine what will happen ... the problem is how to choose and I have no time.

'I can't make the decision to give up any side, both have a big influence on the future of China's soccer. If I have no choice, I will have to put both teams together.'

Fixtures for the World Cup qualifiers, the third stage of Asian qualifying for the 2010 tournament in South Africa, have not been officially released. Nobody from the Asian Football Confederation was immediately available to comment.

Dujkovic has been set a target of getting China to the quarter-finals of the Olympic tournament, which takes place in Beijing and four other cities from Aug. 6 to 23 next year.

China have qualified only once for the World Cup, in 2002, and their chances of getting to South Africa were hit when they were drawn in the toughest Asian group last Sunday