Results

Asia - World Cup Qualifying 06/11 11:00 6 [1] South Korea v China PR [2] L 1-0
Asia - World Cup Qualifying 06/06 12:00 5 [2] China PR v Thailand [3] D 1-1
Asia - World Cup Qualifying 03/26 12:00 4 [3] China PR v Singapore [4] W 4-1
Asia - World Cup Qualifying 03/21 12:30 3 [4] Singapore v China PR [3] D 2-2
AFC Asian Cup 01/22 15:00 3 [1] Qatar v China PR [2] L 1-0
AFC Asian Cup 01/17 11:30 2 [4] Lebanon v China PR [2] D 0-0
AFC Asian Cup 01/13 14:30 1 [2] China PR v Tajikistan [3] D 0-0
International Match 12/29 15:15 - China PR v Oman L 0-2
Asia - World Cup Qualifying 11/21 12:00 2 [2] China PR v South Korea [1] L 0-3
Asia - World Cup Qualifying 11/16 12:30 1 [2] Thailand v China PR [2] W 1-2
International Match 10/16 11:35 - China PR v Uzbekistan L 1-2
International Match 10/10 11:35 - China PR v Vietnam W 2-0

Stats

 TotalHomeAway
Matches played 14 9 5
Wins 3 2 1
Draws 5 3 2
Losses 6 4 2
Goals for 13 9 4
Goals against 16 11 5
Clean sheets 3 2 1
Failed to score 7 4 3

The China national football team (simplified Chinese: 中国国家足球队; traditional Chinese: 中國國家足球隊; pinyin: Zhōngguó guójiā zúqiú duì, recognised as China PR by FIFA) represents the People's Republic of China in international association football and is governed by the Chinese Football Association.

China won the EAFF East Asian Cup in 2005 and 2010, was runner-up at the AFC Asian Cup in 1984 and 2004 and made its sole FIFA World Cup appearance in 2002, losing all matches without scoring a goal.

History

History (1913–1949)

Chinese Olympic football team in 1936

China's first-ever international representative match was arranged by Elwood Brown, president of the Philippine Athletic Association, who proposed the creation of the Far Eastern Championship Games, a multi-sport event considered to be a precursor to the Asian Games. He invited China to participate in the inaugural 1913 Far Eastern Championship Games held in the Philippines, which included association football within the schedule. To represent them, it was decided that the winner of the football at the Chinese National Games in 1910 should have the honour to represent the country, where it was won by South China Football Club. The club's founder and coach Mok Hing (Chinese: 莫慶) would become China's first coach and on 4 February 1913 in a one-off tournament game held in the Manila he led China to a 2–1 defeat against the Philippines national football team.

The political unrest of the Xinhai Revolution that mired China's participation in the first tournament, especially in renaming the team as Republic of China national football team, did not stop Shanghai being awarded the 1915 Far Eastern Championship Games. Once again South China Football Club, now known as South China Athletic Association won the right to represent the nation. This time in a two legged play-off against the Philippines, China won the first game 1–0 and then drew the second 0–0 to win their first ever tournament. With the games being the first and only regional football tournament for national teams outside Britain, China looked to establish themselves as a regional powerhouse by winning a total of nine championships.

The Chinese Football Association was founded in 1924 and then was first affiliated with FIFA in 1931. With these foundations in place China looked to establish themselves within the international arena and along with Japan were the first Asian sides to participate in the Football at the Summer Olympics when they competed within the 1936 Summer Olympics held in Germany. At the tournament China were knocked out within their first game at the round of 16 when they were beaten by Great Britain Olympic football team 2–0 on 6 August 1936.

On 7 July 1937 the Second Sino-Japanese War officially erupted, which saw the relations between China and Japan completely eroded especially once it was announced that Japan would hold the 1938 Far Eastern Championship Games. The tournament would be officially cancelled while Japan held their own tournament called the 2600th Anniversary of the Japanese Empire, which included the Japanese puppet states Manchukuo and the collaborationist National Reorganised Government of China based in occupied Nanjing. But none of the top Chinese players competed in the Japanese Empire anniversary games. None of the games during the Second Sino-Japanese War are officially recognized and once the war ended on 9 September 1945 China looked to the Olympics once again for international recognition. On 2 August 1948 China competed in the Football at the 1948 Summer Olympics where they were once again knocked out in the last sixteen, this time by Turkey national football team in a 4–0 defeat. When the players returned they found the country in the midst of the Chinese Civil War. When it ended, the team had been split into two, one called the People's Republic of China national football team and the other called Republic of China national football team (later renamed Chinese Taipei national football team).

Early People's Republic (1950–1976)

The newly instated People's Republic of China reformed CFA before having FIFA acknowledge their 1931 membership on 14 June 1952. Finland, who were one of the first nations to hold diplomatic relations with China's new government, invited the country to take part in the 1952 Summer Olympics. Li Fenglou would become the country's first permanent manager to lead them in the tournament, however the Chinese delegation was delayed and they missed the entire competition, nevertheless the Finland national football team would still greet Li and the Chinese team with a friendly game on 4 August 1952 making it People's Republic of China's official first game, which ended in a 4–0 defeat. In preparation for entering their first FIFA competition, China sent a young squad to train in Hungary in 1954. However, when they entered the 1958 FIFA World Cup qualification process China were knocked out by Indonesia.

On 7 June 1958, China stopped participating within any FIFA recognised football events when FIFA officially started to recognise the Republic of China as a different country. This sparked a diplomatic argument that had already seen China withdraw from the 1956 Summer Olympics for the same reasons. For years the People's Republic of China would only play in friendlies with nations who recognized them as the sole heir to the China name. On 25 October 1971 the United Nations would recognise the People's Republic country as the sole heir to the China name in their General Assembly Resolution 2758 act. Due to this hearing in 1973, the Nationalist Chinese team, which had been using the name "Republic of China", would stop using that name and would eventually rename themselves as "Chinese Taipei" in 1980. These acts would see China rejoin the international sporting community, first by becoming a member of the Asian Football Confederation in 1974 and by rejoining FIFA again in 1979.

Asian underdogs (1980–2009)

The 1974 Asian Games reintroduced the team back into international football while the 1976 AFC Asian Cup saw them came third.

Chinese players in a match against Saudi Arabia at the 1984 AFC Asian Cup

In 1980, China participated in the 1982 FIFA World Cup qualifiers for a berth in the 1982 World Cup, but they lost a play-off game against New Zealand. During the 1986 FIFA World Cup qualifiers for the 1986 World Cup, China faced Hong Kong at home in the final match of the first qualifying round on 19 May 1985 where China only needed a draw to advance. However, Hong Kong produced a 2–1 upset win which resulted in riots inside and outside the stadium in Beijing. During the 1990 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, China again reached the final round. They just missed out on qualifying as they conceded two goals in the final three minutes against Qatar in their final group match. During the 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifiers – when they were led by their first ever foreign manager, Klaus Schlapner – China failed to reach the final round of qualifying, coming second behind Iraq.

In 1987, the first Chinese footballers moved abroad when future national team player Xie Yuxin joined FC Zwolle (Netherlands) and ex-national teamer Gu Guangming joined SV Darmstadt 98 (Germany). In 1988, national team captain Jia Xiuquan and striker Liu Haiguang both joined FK Partizan (Yugoslavia).

After failing to reach the 1998 FIFA World Cup, China appointed Serbian manager Bora Milutinović as coach of the national team, and China saw its fortune increased. The country managed to take fourth-place finish in the 2000 AFC Asian Cup where the Chinese side performed well, and only fell to heavyweights Japan and South Korea by one goal margin. The good performance in Lebanon boosted the confidence of Chinese side, and in 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, China lost only one and drew only one, winning all the remaining games, most notably an important 1–0 win over Oman, to finally reach the 2002 FIFA World Cup, its first and only World Cup up to date. In the 2002 World Cup, China was eliminated after three matches without gaining a single point nor even scoring a goal during their participation in the tournament.

China hosted the 2004 AFC Asian Cup, ultimately fell 1–3 to Japan in a final match. The match's outcome sparked anger among Chinese supporters, who rioted in response to bad refereeing. There were an estimated 250 million viewers for the match, the largest single-event sports audience in the country's history at that time.

After winning the 2005 East Asian Football Championship following a 2–0 win against North Korea, they started qualification for the 2007 AFC Asian Cup. During this time, the team became the subject of immense criticism and national embarrassment in the media when they had managed to score only one goal, Shao Jiayi's penalty kick during injury time, against Singapore at home and only managed a draw with Singapore in the away game. During preparations for the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, the team spent the weeks leading up to the tournament on a tour of the United States. While the 4–1 loss to the United States was unexpected, a 1–0 loss to Major League Soccer side Real Salt Lake which finished bottom of the league in the 2007 season caused serious concern.

During the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, the team played three group matches, winning against Malaysia, drawing with Iran after leading 2–1, and losing 3–0 to Uzbekistan. After high expectations, China's performance at the tournament drew criticism online which condemned the team's members and even the association. Zhu was later replaced as manager by Vladimir Petrović after these performances. Some commented that China's reliance on foreign managers for the past decade had been an indicator of its poor domestic manager development.

In June 2008, China failed to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, losing against Qatar and Iraq at home. After the 2008 Summer Olympics, Petrović was sacked as the manager and Yin Tiesheng was announced as the team's caretaker.

Stagnation (2010–present)

In April 2009, China appointed Gao Hongbo as the new manager, replacing Yin Tiesheng. His arrival saw China opt for a new strategy, turning towards ground passing tactics and adopting the 4–2–3–1 formation. It was noted that Chinese footballers had relied too heavily on the long ball tactic for almost a decade. Wei Di, the chief of the Chinese Football Association, stressed that, "Anytime, no matter win or loss, they must show their team spirit and courage. I hope, after one year's effort, the national team can give the public a new image." Gao was knocked out of the 2011 AFC Asian Cup's group stage. His winning percentage (65%), the highest for a Chinese manager since Nian Weisi (67.86%), did not defer the Chinese Football Association from replacing him with José Antonio Camacho in August 2011, less than a month before the qualification process for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Appointment of José Antonio Camacho

On 13 August 2011, José Antonio Camacho was appointed as the new manager of the team, signing a three-year deal for a reported annual salary of $8 million. Wei Di, CFA chief, explained the decision as being part of a long-term plan to help the country catch up with rivals Japan and South Korea. He noted that, "Compared with their neighbours Japan and South Korea, Chinese football is lagging far behind, we need to work with a long-term view and start to catch up with a pragmatic approach. The citizens expects heavily for China to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup held in Brazil. They are afraid that changing the coach at the last moment may cause bad effect to the team's qualifying prospect. I can totally understand that. But we do not have any time to waste."

Yu Hongchen, the vice-president of the Chinese Football Administrative Centre, also stated, "The qualifying stage of 2014 World Cup is just a temporary task for him. Even if the task is failed, Camacho will not lose the job. When we started to find a new coach for the national team, we mainly focus on European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. First of all, they have advanced football concepts, and secondly they have a productive youth training system, which we can learn from. We hope he can help us to find a suitable style."

Camacho managed the team to an 8–0 lost against Brazil in a friendly match on 10 September 2012 which would go on record as China's biggest ever international defeat. This massive loss also succumbed China to their worst ever FIFA ranking (109th).

Camacho then led China during their qualification process for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup whereby losing the first group match 2–1 to Saudi Arabia. After a 5–1 lost against Thailand in a friendly match, Camacho was sacked a week later and with Fu Bo assigned as the caretaker. In light of continued struggles, in 2015, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping expressed the goal of having China's men's national team be the top team in Asia by 2030 and the following year China revealed its ambitious blueprint to be the best in the world by 2050.

Alain Perrin and Gao Hongbo returns

The Chinese national team in Tehran before a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification match against Iran

After Camacho, there was Alain Perrin, who finally led China to qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, which also included luck from the Thailand–Lebanon encounter, in which Thailand lost but salvaged an important goal by Adisak Kraisorn to help improve China's goal difference with the Lebanese. Soon after that, Perrin led China into a series of friendlies, where some positive results against Macedonia, Kuwait, Paraguay and Thailand boosted some optimism.

In the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, Perrin's China was placed in a group with Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and North Korea. China emerged victoriously in all three games, qualified for the knockout stage for the first time since the 2004 edition. The Chinese Dragons then lost to host Australia 0–2 with Tim Cahill scoring a brace.

Despite this, China's 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers immediately represented a huge problem for the Chinese side; they were held goalless by Hong Kong at home twice, and lost to Qatar. Perrin was sacked for the team's poor performance at the middle of the second round following another goalless draw to Hong Kong, and former coach Gao Hongbo returned to the role on 3 February 2016, where he had to face a task of guiding China in at the expense of North Korea which had a better second-place ranking than China. Gao's first two matches were consecutive wins against Maldives and Qatar, and with North Korea suddenly slipping out against the Philippines, these results secured the team's passage to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and entering the final qualifying stage for the World Cup.

China continued their World Cup hunt by a 2–3 defeat to South Korea; and a goalless draw to AFC's then highest ranked Iran at home. However, China followed that with a 0–1 loss at home to Syria and 0–2 away to Uzbekistan next month. Gao Hongbo resigned. His team had been winless in the first four matches of the final qualifying stage for the World Cup, including a home loss to Syria which was criticised by a number of fans.

Marcello Lippi's tenure

Chinese players after win against Thailand at 2019 AFC Asian Cup Round of 16

On 22 October 2016, Marcello Lippi was appointed manager of the team ahead for the last remaining matches. A match saw China defeat South Korea for the first time in a FIFA-sanctioned tournament, amidst the heat of tensions over South Korea's deployment of THAAD. However, China's away loss to Iran and a 2–2 draw to Syria meant China was unable to compete with and dragged behind by Syria who managed a 2–2 draw with Iran and not to be qualified for the 2018 World Cup under Lippi's tenure, but improvements could be seen following two late wins over Uzbekistan and Qatar.

Lippi led the side during the final stage of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, where China won 2–1 to Kyrgyzstan and 3–0 to Philippines, before losing 2–0 to group leaders South Korea on 16 January. China then beat Thailand 2–1 to earn a place in the quarter-finals, where it was knocked 3–0 out by Iran; Lippi subsequently confirmed his departure from the team.

Another Italian and former Ballon d'Or winner, Fabio Cannavaro was appointed as the next China's manager in conjunction with coaching Guangzhou Evergrande but he stepped down after only two matches.

Lacking options when it came to searching for a new coach, CFA re-appointed Marcello Lippi. To improve the team, China had begun a series of naturalization on foreign-based players, with Nico Yennaris, an English-born Cypriot, and Tyias Browning, another English-born player, being naturalized. Subsequently, Elkeson, a Brazilian player with no Chinese ancestry, was naturalized. Despite the process of naturalization, the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification for China proved to be rockier than expected, the team could only beat the Maldives and Guam, before being held goalless in the Philippines and followed with a denting 1–2 away lost to Syria, and Lippi resigned as coach.

Li Tie and Li Xiaopeng's era

2002 FIFA World Cup ace Li Tie was appointed as China's head coach on 2 January 2020. Trailing behind Syria by five points before Li took charge, China were still unable to reclaim their first place but nonetheless managed to win all of their remaining fixtures, including an important 2–0 win over the Philippines and notably a 3–1 win over Syria to guarantee them as the best second-placed team, thus reaching the third round.

In the third round, China shared Group B with Asian powerhouses Japan, Australia and Saudi Arabia, alongside Oman and Vietnam. The Chinese started poorly with two losses to Australia and Japan in Doha due to the COVID-19 pandemic at home preventing the country from hosting. After this poor start, China salvaged five points in the next four matches, including a hard-fought 3–2 win over Vietnam and two 1–1 draws to Oman and especially Australia, all occurring in Sharjah, the UAE. However, despite these improvements, Li Tie was sacked on 2 December 2021 amidst heavy criticism.

After Li Tie's resignation, his World Cup teammate Li Xiaopeng took the head coach position with immense pressure. China's first game under Li Xiaopeng, however, was a 0–2 away loss to Japan in Saitama, effectively ending China's hopes of finishing in the top two and could only rely on the play-offs. Yet, on 1 February 2022, coinciding with the traditional Lunar New Year, the Chinese stumbled to a shock 1–3 loss to Vietnam in Hanoi, officially extending China's hunt for a second World Cup appearance to 24 years. This defeat, the first in Chinese football history to Vietnam, triggered widespread anger and criticism amongst Chinese fans. With their World Cup hopes lost, China grabbed a solitary point coming from a 1–1 draw with the Saudis before losing to Oman 0–2 in Muscat, finishing fifth with two more points than Vietnam.

The Yugoslav era

After poor forms in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifications, China took part in the 2022 EAFF E-1 Football Championship under interim manager Aleksandar Janković. With the leadership of Janković, China won four points, finishing third after a 1–0 win over Hong Kong, though for the first time in 12 years, China did not lose to Japan away. Because of this result Janković was named the permanent coach of the China national team in 2023, with the aim to guide China to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

On 1 January 2024, China suffered a 1–2 defeat to Hong Kong in an international friendly, marking their first loss in 39 years. Later, for the first time ever, China could not score in three consecutive matches at the AFC Asian Cup as they fell to third with only two points and later eliminated. This result and poor performance of the side triggered outrage in China, and Aleksandar Janković would lose the job on 31 January 2024.

On 25 February 2024, Branko Ivanković succeeded Janković as China's new coach. Under his tenure, China only managed to reach the final round of the World Cup qualification by the slimmest margin, thanked to China's superior head-to-head record against Thailand after both teams were equal on points, goals scored and goal difference.

China PR, officially known as the China national football team, represents the People's Republic of China in international soccer competitions. The team is governed by the Chinese Football Association and has a rich history in Asian football.

The China PR team has had varying degrees of success over the years, with their best performance coming in the 2002 FIFA World Cup where they reached the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup. They have also qualified for the FIFA World Cup on one occasion in 2002.

The team is known for their strong defensive play and disciplined tactics on the field. They have a loyal fan base and are considered one of the top teams in Asia.

China PR has produced some talented players over the years, with many going on to have successful careers in domestic and international leagues. The team continues to strive for success on the international stage and is always looking to improve and grow as a soccer powerhouse in Asia.