China exults in shock defeat of France
BEIJING: Chinese commentators rejoiced Saturday in their national team''s shock 1-0 victory over former world champions France, hoping for a footballing renaissance after years of corruption scandals.
In their final warm-up match ahead of the World Cup, France slumped to defeat Friday at the hands of a Chinese team ranked 84th in the FIFA standings that failed to qualify for the tournament in South Africa.
Ma Dexing of the Chinese sports newspaper Titan said he was too excited to sleep after covering the game on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion.
"Guys, I was witness to a historic moment for Chinese football! That''s how history is made! Chinese football must continue on from this springboard," he wrote.
Dong Lu, one of China''s best known sports journalists, blogged that it was the "proudest day" for the national team since they qualified for the 2002 World Cup -- their only appearance so far in football''s global showcase.
"The Chinese people should be proud of the performance of their side," he said.
More than 67,000 Chinese fans tweeted for joy on micro-blogging site Weibo, after a dipping free-kick from Shandong Luneng midfielder Deng Zhuoxiang bamboozled France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to earn China their win.
It was a rare ray of light for Chinese football after a dark few years, with league match-fixing, crooked referees and the team''s dismal performances since 2002 making the sport a laughing stock among increasingly indifferent fans.
But Gao Hongbo, China''s seventh coach since 2000, cautioned against reading too much into the defeat of Les Bleus.
"For the France team, of course they can get to the final of the World Cup, because they are very strong," he told reporters after the match.
"Today the French didn''t realise the true quality of the Chinese team, perhaps because they thought that we''d be weaker."