Melbourne, Feb 23 (IANS) China could win the FIFA World Cup within “10 or 15 years”, according to Shanghai SIPG head coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.
Speaking at a press conference before SIPG meets Melbourne Victory in the Asian Champions League (ACL) on Wednesday, the Swedish mastermind said the explosion of money being put into Chinese football — specifically the Chinese Super League (CSL) — would eventually translate to sustained national team success, reports Xinhua.
“I think I’m at the right place at the right time. You can always feel how football is growing in China,” Eriksson said on Tuesday.
“I’ve been in Italy during the 90s when every player wanted to come to Italy because the football was very good, then I was in England during the 2000s and all the players wanted to go to the Premier League because of more money and the good football.”
“Now, in 2016, it seems that every player wants to come to China for the same reasons. (All the money) will make the clubs much stronger. Maybe 10 or 15 years ahead, I’m sure China’s national team will compete well to win the World Cup,” Eriksson said.
Eriksson also noted the improvement in junior ranks, and praised CSL clubs for opening youth academies to train China’s next generation of football stars.
“It’s not only the top of football in China that’s getting bigger and richer, also the Chinese clubs are opening football schools more or less every day – and young boys and girls will start to play football,” he said.
“The future for football in China is great I’m sure about that.”
Shanghai SIPG midfielder Dario Conca agreed with the former England national team coach, and said local players would only continue to get better thanks to the recent influx of “world-class” coaches.
“China’s football is progressing… for the players they are getting better. Also, the world-class coaches are coming to China now,” Conca told the press.
“Football is growing more and more popular, and it will bring lots of benefits to China.”
Shanghai SIPG is in Melbourne to play the Victory in their ACL match on Wednesday.