GUANGZHOU, China, Nov 16, 2010 (AFP) - China's media showered invective on its national football team Tuesday, calling the loss to South Korea a humiliating nightmare and labelling the team the worst in the nation's history.
Three-time champions South Korea knocked China out of the Asian Games comptition Monday, dominating the hosts with a 3-0 victory in front of 43,000 disappointed Chinese fans in the last 16 clash.
"This series of matches by the team that has been called 'China's worst Olympic team in history' has used their performances here to prove that they are the worst in history," the Yangtze Evening News screamed.
Despite Asian Games victories over Kyrgyzstan and Malaysia, the Chinese side lost to their fiercest rivals South Korea and Japan by identical scores.
Monday's defeat "rubbed salt into the wounds of Chinese soccer, which has been hit hard in the last few years by match-fixing, crooked referees and illegal gambling," Xinhua news agency said.
The South Koreans "met few threats from a seemingly amateurish side who created few chances and shots and had a fragile defence."
Leading web portal Sina.com said the loss was an insult to the fans, adding there was little hope for the future of a youth side that is "paralyzed by fear" of their East Asian opponents.
According to a Sina survey, 91 percent of over 17,000 respondents said there was no hope for the side, while 95 percent said that the team's technical ability was lagging far behind that of South Korea.
"China's nightmare of losing to its perennial rival, the Repbulic of Korea, continued on Monday," said the China Daily in a story headlined: "China chokes in front of huge crowd of hometeam supporters."
The Chengdu Business News focused its criticism on the team's coach Sun Wei, saying his strategy was more fit for rugby than football, joining the chorus of calls for his removal.
China's loyal fans had hoped a run deep into the Asian Games tournament would help turn the page on the nasty corruption scandal that has resulted in the arrests of two former heads of the Chinese Football Association and a bevy of lower-level officials.