Football: China coach banished for key Cameroon game

China's head coach Hao Wei looking on during a practice session in Edmonton, Canada.
China's head coach Hao Wei looking on during a practice session in Edmonton, Canada.PHOTO: AFP

EDMONTON, Canada (AFP) - China coach Hao Wei has been banished from the sidelines for his team's last 16 clash against Cameroon in Edmonton on Saturday.

Hao was punished for hampering Ria Percival's bid to take a quick thrown in during a 2-2 draw which sent New Zealand out of the tournament.

The China coach had to field questions during the pre-match press conference on how he would communicate with his young team - whether he would try to hide inside a laundry basket like Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho or use an invisible phoneline like North Korea's leader during the men's World Cup in Brazil.

"No, we don't have anything like that," said a baffled Hao.

It will be the first meeting between the 16th-ranked Chinese, runners-up in 1999, and African newcomers Cameroon, ranked 53.

"After the three matches our team is growing so fast, although I will not be present they are maturing and are more sophisticated, I think they will do well." The Chinese returned to Edmonton where they played their first two matches - a 1-0 loss to Canada and 1-0 win over the Netherlands - before travelling east to Winnipeg for the New Zealand game.

"We are very happy to be back in Edmonton. We've already stayed here for many days and are familiar with the stadium, everything is going according to schedule," he said.

He said they have analysed Cameroon, the only African team left in the tournament, and have a game plan.

"The Cameroonian team did exceptionally well at the group stage but after looking at them in detail we saw they have a big loophole in defence which maybe we can capitalise on." Captain Wu Haiyan said their side would not be thrown off by Hao's absence on the touchline.

"We're pleased to be back (in Edmonton), we feel at home. We've played three matches and already I've seen stronger communication and coordination between the team, we have other coaches as well.

"I'm sure the head coach will convey his orders to the other coaches. Defence will be our priority (Saturday). We know they (Cameroon) have players who are very strong physically." Cameroon coach Enow Ngachu said his team had been boosted by their performance during their 2-1 loss to Japan.

"Japan helped us psychologically. We realised we could challenge the bigger nations," he said, adding that they had drawn inspiration from Cameroon's run to the quarter-finals of the 1990 men's World Cup.

"This was the message before the Japan game. In 1990 Cameroon was the first African country to qualify for the quarter-finals, why not you?" Some of the members of Cameroon's squad in 1990 have also given their support to the team.

"Patrick Mboma spent one week with the team during our preparation games in Canada. He encouraged us and motivated the girls psychologically.

"We also got message from Roger Milla who promised to be here if we qualified for the quarter-final. Even the head of state sent a message of encouragement. It means a lot.

"We are using such messages to galvanise the team."