Football in China
This is the current FIFA ranking for the Chinese men’s football team – an increase of 15 places since the start of the year thanks to their performances in the recent Asian Cup. Though this is an improvement, it is still a long way from the 1998 high of 37. The Chinese women’s national team is currently in 13th position – up from 18th last year.
The Chinese national team has only played on one occasion in the World Cup – in 2002 in Japan/Korea. The team failed to progress from the group stage which included Brazil, Costa Rica and Turkey and did not even register a point or score a goal. They have not really looked like qualifying since then and indeed in the 2014 qualification campaign they did not even manage to make it into the final group stage in the Asian section.
The Chinese Super League first started in 2004 with 12 teams taking part. Shenzhen Jianlibao were the inaugural winners but the most successful club in Super League history is Guangzhou Evergrande who have won the last four titles followed by Shandong Luneng with three wins. There are now 16 teams in the league with the top 3 teams qualifying for the Asian Champions League while the bottom two sides are relegated to the second tier.
The most capped player in Chinese history is Li Weifeng with 112 appearances for the national side, while the all-time leading scorer is Hao Haidong with 41 goals in 107 games – not too shabby at all.
the 1998 high: The highest position that China has featured on FIFA’s ranking of countries
to progress from: To qualify
register a point: To earn a point
inaugural: The first ever
the second tier: The second division
shabby: Not too bad at all