BEIJING, Dec 10 (Reuters) - China coach Vladimir Petrovic has told his players to shed body fat if they want to stay in his squad for the World Cup qualifiers, local media reported on Monday.
A physical examination last weekend during a national team training camp in Guangzhou revealed that nine of the 22 outfield players were too flabby.
'The excessive fat will seriously affect their mobility and speed,' Petrovic told China's Titan newspaper.
'I hope they reduce it as quickly as they can.'
Petrovic, who is coaching the team under the direction of China's Olympic coach and fellow Serb Ratomir Dujkovic, has a track record of being strict on physical conditioning, the paper said.
He relegated one striker to the bench and sold a defender for being overweight when he was managing the Chinese Super League (CSL) club Dalian Shide in 2005.
'I have discussed with Dujkovic that we should send our best squad to the World Cup qualifiers...the premise is they must be strong enough,' Petrovic said.
China have been drawn with Asian Cup winners Iraq, 2006 World Cup qualifers Australia and Asian Games champions Qatar in the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup.
'If we get through the 'group of death', I think it will be tears rather than smiles ... it will be too exciting for me,' Petrovic told the paper.