KUNMING: China will try to make it to top 16 at the World Cup finals in one or two decades, a senior sports official said here on Friday. “The long term objective for the Chinese men’s team is to reach the top 16 at the World Cup,” Cai Zhenhua, president of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), said at a CFA meeting concluding here on Friday. “We will strive to build our national team into a strong and competitive team on the world stage and get ready a bid for the World Cup. It will take us 10 to 20 years or even longer time to achieve top 16,” he added. The Chinese men, who in 2002 lost all three group matches without scoring a goal in their only appearance at the World Cup finals, are on the verge of elimination in the Asian qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup.
“The Chinese team need to work really hard to become regular participants in the World Cup,” said Cai. “As everybody knows, we still have a long way to go. But we hope through steadfast efforts we can make it to the top 16 at the World Cup some time in the future. “We aim to enter top 50 on the FIFA rankings first and then make it to top 30.” Despite little chance of advancing to the Asian qualifying final stage, which will feature 12 teams, Cai asked the Chinese team to do their best in the remaining Group C matches. “We have to display our strength, our style and spirits,” he said. China ranked third behind Qatar and Hong Kong of China in the group with two matches remaining. Top finishers from each of the eight preliminary groups and four second finishers with better results will make it to the final-12 stage.