China FA gives coach Zhu an Asian Cup ultimatum

China's national football coach has been given an ultimatum to lead the squad to the final four of July's AFC Asian Cup 2007 and avoid the errors that led to a recent defeat to Thailand. Embattled coach Zhu Guanghu, ordered to Beijing for two days of talks with top officials following last week's humiliating 1-0 loss in Bangkok, was told, "get to the last four or else," he told Titan Sports weekly. He said he was told by China's Football Association chief Xie Yalong to do whatever was necessary in terms of reshuffling the side or changing tactics in order to improve the team's chances at the Asian Cup.

Zhu argued that the team which played against Thailand was basically a second-string side deprived of many of its European-based players and with only two or three members who would make it to the Asian Cup team. However he took the blame for tactical errors in Bangkok and for failing to take into consideration the sapping effect of the Bangkok heat on his players. "I never though the heat would have such a killing effect on the players," he said. "If we had tried to control the ball and keep possession and save our energy ... we may have had a better result."