China offers soccer team $2m to beat Iran

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National soccer team of China
Team  China

China is dangling $1.95million, about N610million,  to its male national team if they beat Iran in the World Cup Qualification match today.

The match will be played in Shenyang today at 12.35 GMT.

China narrowly lost 2-3 to South Korea in its last qualifier, and are waiting to win their first match in the third round qualifying Group A.

Iran lead the group with three points, followed by South Korea and Uzbekistan.  China are fourth, ahead of Syria and Qatar.

Syria and South Korea, Qatar and Uzbekistan are also scheduled to play today.

Despite their narrow loss in Seoul last week, China’s soccer crazy fans are hoping the team will change the narrative soon.

Jian Mangen, head of the “Team Dragon” supporters’ club, led a contingent of more than 3,000 Chinese fans to Seoul for the match.

Jian said more than 1,000 other supporters made the trip from China, and another 5,000 or so fans in the stadium were Chinese living in South Korea.

In April, China unfolded  grand plan to produce one of the world’s strongest soccer teams by 2050.

The ambitious goal includes interim targets of becoming one of Asia’s best teams in the sport by 2030 and boasting some 50 million soccer players by 2020.

The time frame was contained  in a document released  by the National Development and Reform Commission, Chinese Football Association, Sports Bureau and Ministry of Education.

China had rarely touched on plans to boost its national soccer team until President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012.

Xi, who has been passionate about soccer since he was a child, has repeatedly called for improved soccer education among youngsters to raise playing standards in the nation’s most-watched sport.

*Update: The China, Iran match ended goalless. Uzbekistan now lead the group with six points, while South Korea and Iran have four points each. China are fourth with one point.

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