Football: Ex-Man City star Sun says foreign coaches in China just for money

Sun Jihai said his focus would be on scouting and youth development if he was in charge of a CSL team. PHOTO: MANCITY.COM

SHANGHAI (AFP) - Former Manchester City star Sun Jihai has accused foreign coaches of going to China just for the money, saying they do little to help the country pursue its World Cup dreams.

It comes a week after Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan appointed Slaven Bilic, with the Croatian admitting that "the finances" played a part in the move.

The former West Bromwich Albion manager becomes the latest overseas coach in the CSL, joining Fabio Cannavaro at Guangzhou Evergrande and Rafael Benitez at Dalian Pro.

Sun, a defender who played for City in 2002-2008, said in a television interview this week: "Foreign coaches come to China for a very simple purpose: a pay cheque.

"Otherwise what are they coming for? Do they want to improve the level of Chinese football? Then what have they done?" asked the 43-year-old.

Despite his scathing assessment, Sun admitted: "If I were a coach I would do the same. People are stupid and have a lot of money, why not?"

CSL clubs gained a reputation in recent years for extravagant spending, especially on attacking players such as €60 million (S$97 million) Brazilian international Oscar at Shanghai SIPG.

The boom is now over after Chinese football authorities put a cap on salaries, but Sun said: "At many of our league teams foreign players only need to attack and not defend.

"But this is not football, this is not the direction that football development should go.

"It probably can get you the win this time, but it will make Chinese football worse and worse," added the former international, now vice-chairman of the FA in the region of Xinjiang.

Asked what he would do if he was in charge of a CSL team, Sun said his focus would be on scouting and youth development.

"Youth training is a fundamental task crucial for generations to come," he said.

China has big ambitions to host and even one day win a World Cup.

But the country currently sits 75th in Fifa's world rankings and has reached the World Cup only once, in 2002.

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