Sunday, December 28, 2014

Costa Rica All-time 23 member team

Costa Rica 2014

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Costa Rica is the most successful national team in the region after USA and Mexico.   Before the 1990's, Los Ticos won three CONCACAFA Championships in 1963, 1969 and 1989. They also went to two Olympics in 1980 and 1984.  Then, in 1990, they shocked the world at the WC Finals in Italy.  They advanced to the 2nd round by beating Sweden and Scotland.  In 2014, Costa Rica made another strong run at the World Cup Finals.  They were grouped in the Group of Death with England, Uruguay and Italy.  They responded by beating both Italy and Uruguay before drawing England in the final and meaningless game.  They beat Greece in the round of 16 before losing to Holland in a penalty shootout during the quarterfinal.  The result was one of the best ever CONCACAFA finish at the WC Finals.

I also created an all-time CONCACAFA team that excluded players from the big three. 

GK: Luis Gabelo Conejo
He was the hero of Los Ticos' WC run in 1990, where they reached the 2nd round.  He also played in Spain.

GK: Keylor Navas 
After starting out at Saprissa he moved to Albacete, and then to Levante in La Liga.  After a great performance With Levante, he won the La Liga Keeper of the Year award for 2014 with Levante.  Then, he led Costa Rica to the quarter-final of the WC in Brazil.  After the WC Finals, he earned a transfer to Real Madrid.  With Real Madrid, he won two Champions League title as their starting keeper.
Keylor Naves
GK: Erick Lonnis 
He is the all-time leading cap leader for a keeper in Costa Rica.  He captained the national team at the Korea/Japan 2002.  He is an all-time great at Saprissa.

RB/CB: Michael Umaña
He has played for Los Ticos since 2004.  He went to the WC in 2006 and 2014.  He was a part of the great defensive units at Brazil 2014 in which Los Ticos reached the quarter-final.

CB: Roger Flores
Roger Flores was the captain of the national team that advanced to the 2nd round of the Italia 1990.  He  played for the two most popular teams, Alajuelense and Saprissa. 

CB: Luis Marín
He earned 128 caps with Costa Rica.  He spent most of his career with Alajuelense, but he also had stints in Uruguay and Israel.  He was Israel Foreign Player of the Year in 2006-2007.

CB: Gilberto Martinez
He played for Costa Rica at WC 2002 and 2006.  He was a key player with Brescia. 
Gilberto Martinez

CB:  Mario Cordero
He played for Costa Rica between 1950 and 1963.  He was considered a legend with Saprissa and one of Costa Rica's greatest defenders.  

CB: Giancarlo González
He earned a big move to Palermo in Italy after the WC Finals in 2014.  He previously played in Norway and the USA.

CB: Óscar Duarte
He was born in Nicaragua.  He was a part of the great defensive at WC 2014, where Costa Rica only up a single goal in group stage and reached the quarterfinal.  He played in Belgium.

LB: Bryan Oviedo
At the time of writing, he plays for Everton in England.  he previously played in Norway and Denmark.  He missed the 2014 WC Finals through an injury.

DM:  Mauricio Solis
He was an important player during the later 1990's and 2000's.  he was capped 110 times.  He went to both WC Finals in 2002 and 2006.  For his club career, he played in England, the MLS and Mexico.

CM: Celso Borges
His father represented Los Ticos at the WC 1990.  He himself helped Costa Rica to reach the quarter-final at WC 2014.  He was one of the best players at the WC U-16 in 2005. He played professionally with AIK in Sweden. 
Celso Borges

AM:  Walter Centeno
He is the cap record holder for Costa Rica, having gained 137 cap.  he is considered one of the best players of his generation.  he played mainly for Saprissa and had a brief spell in Greece.

AM:  Oscar Ramírez
Nicknamed El Machillo (The Blonde).  He earned 75 caps for Costa Rica and went to the WC in 1990.  For his club career, he played for both Alajuelense and Saprissa.

Campbell was signed by Arsenal in 2010, but was put on loan until 2015-2016, where he is having a break through season.

FW/RW: Hernán Medford
He gained international flame at the WC in 1990 when Los Ticos reached the 2nd round.  He also plaued in Spain, Italy, the former Yugoslavia, Mexico and Austria. 

Hernán Medford

FW/RW: Bryan Ruiz
He is te captain of the national team that reached the quarter-final of  the 2014 WC Finals.  He played his club football in Belgium. Holland and England.  He played with Alajuelense at home.

SS: Rolando Fonseca
Nicknamed El Principito.  He earned 113 caps for his country. He is also the all-time leading scorer for Costa Rica.

FW: Alejandro Morera Soto
He was a part of the legendary Barcelona of the 1930's.  He earned the nickname "El fenomeno costarricense" ("The Costa Rican phenomenon") in Barcelona. He scored over 60 goals for them.

FW: Ronald Gomez  
He was one of the greatest Costa Rican players.  He was capped 93 times.  He went to the WC in 2002 and 2006.  He played in 6 countries.

FW: José Rafael Meza Ivancovich
He was one of the greatest players in Costa Rica during the 1940's.  He started his career with Club Sport Cartaginés.  he went to play for Moctezuma in Mexico, where he was the top league scoer in his first season.  He later joined Estudiantes de La Plata in Argenmtina and Atlante in Mexico, where he was a top player in the Mexican league. He also played in Colombia and Honduras. The Club Sport Cartaginés' stadium was named after him.

FW: Paulo Wanchope
He was probably the most successful Costa Rican Europe-based player in the modern era. He played for Derby, West Ham. Manchester City and Malaga. He also played in Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006. 
Paulo Wanchope

Honorable Mention
Christian Bolaños

Squad Explanation
I selected 7 players(and a 8th player who missed the WC Final) from the WC 2014 team because no Costa Rican team have done more than that team.  They did not just advanced to the quarterfinal.  They actually emerged from the Group of Death that included Italy, Uruguay and England.  They did with ease too.  They only failed at the quarterfinal by penalty kicks against Holland, the finalist in 2010 and the semifinalist in 2014.  Joel Campbell 

Starting lineup
Formation 4-4-2
I started four players from the current generation and an old-timer.  Celso Borges  is the surprise starter.  I need a more balanced midfield.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

South Korea All-time 23 member team

World Cup 2002

South Korea is a power in Asia since the 1950's.  They won two Asian Cup in 1956 and 1960.  They were  the second Asian country to participate in a World Cup Finals when they went to Switzerland in 1954.  However, they would not go to another WC Finals until 1986.  Led by Asia's greatest modern player Cha Bum Ku, South Korea only managed a draw with Bulgaria in 1986. However, they would go on to qualify for the 8 straight WC Finals.  In 2002, they beat Poland, Portugal, Italy and Spain en route to the semifinal of the WC Finals held at home.  This remained the best ever result by a country outside South America and Europe since the United States in the 1930.

GK:  Lee Woon-Jae 이운재
He was a part of four World Cup Finals.  His best tournament was in 2002 where South Korea reached the semifinal and he was inspirational as he saved a penalty in the penalty shootout of the quarterfinal win vs Spain.  

GK: Choi In-young  최인영
Choi was the starting goalkeeper at WC Finals in 1990 and 1994. He was unfortunately remembered for giving up three goals to Germany at the WC in 1994.

GK: Kim Byung-ji 김병지
He was locked up with the better for number 1 with Lee Woon-Jaae. He went to the France1998 and Korea/Japan 2002 as a backup.  He was selected as the best keepers inthe K-League for a record 4 times.

RB: Kim Ho-kon 김호곤
He played most of his entire career with Seoul Trust Bank. He represented South Korea from 1971 to 1978. he was voted as the greatest rightback in Asian history by FC.

CB:  Hong Myung-bo 홍명보
He is the all-time cap record holder for South Korea.  He played in 4 WC Finals.  In 2002, he captained South Korea to reach the WC semifinal.  He won the Bronze Ball at the WC Finals.  he is probably the greatest defender in Asian history. 

Hong Myung-bo

CB: Kim Ho 김호
He was Korean Player of the Year in 1969.  He played in the Asian Cup in 1972.  He was an amateur player with Cheil Industries FC and a founding member of Commercial Back of Korea FC. 

CB: Kim Jung-nam 김정남
He played for South Korea from 1962 and 1971.  He was named Korean Player of the Year in 1971. His two brothers Kim Sung-nam and Kim Kang-nam also represented Korea.
CB: Chung Yong-hwan 정용환
He played his entire career with Daewoo Royals. He won the AFC Champions' League in 1986.  He represented Korea at  1986  World Cup, 1990 World Cup, 1984 Asian Cup and 1988 Asian Cup.

LB/CB: Kim Tae-young 김태영
He played for Korea at the WC Finals in 2002. He played for Chunnam Dragons.  He was capped 105 times.

LB:  Lee Young-Pyo 이영표
He enjoyed one of the most successful career for an Asian playing in Europe.  He was a starter with PSV Eindhoven and Tottenham Hotspurs.  He played 127 caps for South Korea. 

Lee Young-Pyo
CM: Yoo Sang-Chul 유상철
He was capped 124 times between 1994 and 2005.  He went to the WC Finals in 1998 and 2002.  He played for Ulan Hyundai FC in Korea, but also playd 8 seasons in J-League. 

DM: Kim Nam-Il  김남일
 He was a relatively unknown player before the WC in 2002.  He made a name for himself at the Korea/Japan 2002 after Guus Hiddink transformed him into a defensive midfielder.  He had played in Holland, Russia and Japan.

CM: Kim Joo Sung 김주성
From 1988 to 1990, he won three straight Asian Player of the Year.  He was known for his long hair during his career.  He played in three WC Finals.  He spent two seasons with Vfl Bochum. 

Kim Joo Sung

CM: Huh Jung-Moo 허정무
He was one of the first Korean players to play in Europe.  He joined PSV Eindhoven in 1980.  He was capped 84 times and played in the 1986 WC Finals.
CM: Noh Jung Yoon 노정윤
He was the first Korean player to play in the J. League when he moved to Sanfrecce Hiroshima.  He almost spent his entire career playing in Japan, with a brief career in Holland. He represented Korea at the USA 1994 and France 1998.
RW/LW: Park Ji-Sung 박지성
He is the most decorated Asian footballer in history, as the first Asian footballer to have won the UEFA Champions League trophy, the first Asian footballer to play in a UEFA Champions League Final, as well as the first Asian footballer to have won the FIFA Club World Cup.  He spent 7 seasons with Manchester United.

Park Ji-Sung

RW/FW: Ko Jeong-woon 고정운
He played for Korea at the 1994 WC Finals and 1996 Asian Cup.  He was capped 77 times and was one of the best Korean players in the mid-1990's.

RW: Seo Jung-Won 서정원
He was a member of the South Korea at the 1994 World Cup, the 1990, 1994, 1998 Asian Games, and the 1998 FIFA World Cup.  He played in Korea and Austria throughout his career.
FW: Park Lee-chun 박이천
He helped Korea to finish at the 1972 Asian Cup and then, won the Korean Player of the Year in the same year.  He turned professional in 1974 when he joined the Hong Kong league, playing for Sea Bee and South China.

FW: Hwang Sun-Hong 황선홍
He was one of the most important Korean player between 1988 and 2002.  He played in 4 WC Finals.  He spent most of his career in Japan and South Korea. 

FW: Choi Soon-ho 최순호 
He was a star in the 1980's.  He was capped 97 times.  He played in the 1986 and 1990 WC Finals.  He was the Asian Cup top-scorer in 1980.
ST:  Cha Bum Kun 차범근
He was the greatest Asian player in the modern era.  He won two UEFA Cups, one each for Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen. He was widely considered one of the best forwards in the Bundesliga throughout his career. He became the third-highest-paid footballer in Germany. 

Cha Bum Kun

ST: Choi Yong-Soo 최용수
He represented South Korea at the 1996 Summer Olympics, 1998 World Cup, and 2002 World Cup.  He played in both Japan and Korea.
ST: Seol Ki-hyeon 설기현
He started his Europe career in Belgium where he played with Royal Antwerp and Anderlecht. He also played with Wolverhampton Wanderers, Fulham and Reading.  He was a star at the WC in 2002.

Honorable Mention
Park Kyung-hoon, Cha Du-ri, Kim Nam-il, Chung Hae-won and Ahn Jung-Hwan, Son Heung-min.

Squad Explanation
I could not find much information on Korean players in the 1960's, where they dominated Asian football. So I do not think my team is not the best of South Korean football.  I also considered Chung Hae-won and Ahn Jung-Hwan. Son Heung-min is still young.

Starting lineup
Formation: 4-3-3

Friday, December 26, 2014

Japan All-time 23 member team

Japan 1998
Before the 1990's, football was not a big sport in Japan.  In 1992, however, Japan won the Asian Cup and became a power in Asia.  With the formation of J-League in 1993, football gained ground in Japan.  In the same year, they almost qualified for the WC Finals in United States. However, they surrendered a 90th minute goal to Iraq that gave South Korea the final berth to the WC Finals.  The match was known as the "Agony of Doha".  Japan finally qualified for the WC in 1998 and went on to qualify for all of the following WC Finals at the time of writing.  In both 2002 and 2010, they advanced to the second round of the WC Finals.

If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be 23 players I would bring to the tournament.

GK: Eiji Kawashima 川島 永嗣
He was the starting keeper for both WC Finals in 2010 and 2014.  He is the first Japanese keeper to establish himself in an European Club.  He played for Standard Leige and Lierse.
GK: Seigo Narazaki 楢﨑 正剛
He was named in 4 straight WC team, but he started only in 2002.  He played mainly for Nagoya Grampus.

GK: Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi 川口 能活
He was named in 4 straight WC teams.  He was the starter for France 1998 and South Africa 2006.  He spent most of his career playing at home, but spent a brief stint with Portsmouth in the First Division.  

RB: Atsuto Uchida 内田 篤人
He has been playing for Schalke 04 for the past 5 seasons.  He was on the Bundesliga team of the Year for 2012-2013. 

RB/DM/CB: Takumi Horiike 堀池 巧
He started his career with Yomiuri.  After the formation of J-League, he spent most of his career with Shimizu S-Pulse. He was capped 58 times

CB: Masami Ihara 井原 正巳
Masami Ihara was the Asian player of the Year in 1995.  He led Japan to its first ever World Cup in 1998. He was a star in the J-League throughout the 1990's.


CB: Maya Yoshida 吉田 麻也
He started his career with Grampus Eight Nagoya.  Since 2012, he has played or Southampton.  He also played for VVV Velo. He went to the WC in 2014.

CB: Yuji Nakazawa 中沢 佑二
He went to Brazil as a youngster.  He returned to Japan, and played for  Verdy Kawasaki and Yokohama Marinos.  He went to the South Africa 2006.  He was one of four Japanese players to earn over 100 caps. 
CB: Tsuneyasu Miyamoto 宮本 恒靖
He played for Gamba Osaka before moving to play for Red Bull Salzburg in Austria. he played in 2002 and 2006 WC Finals.

 LB:  Yuto Nagatomo 長友 佑都
He is known for his offensive skills.  Since 2011, he was a starter with Inter Milan.  He played with Tokyo FC and Cesena.  He can also play as a rightback. 

LB: Satoshi Tsunami 都並 敏史
He started his career with Yomiuri in the Japanese Professional league.  He was capped 80 times before 1982 and 1995.

CM: Ruy Ramos ラモス瑠偉
He was one of the first foreign players in Japanese professional soccer, joining Yomiuri (later Verdy Kawasaki, now Tokyo Verdy) in 1977 at the age of 20. He was an important member of the Japanese national team during their unsuccessful 1994 World Cup qualification, eventually retiring from the game in 1998 at the age of 41.

CM: Yasuhito Endō 遠藤 保仁
He was a hero at Gamba Osaka.  He is Japan's most capped players.  He went to the WC Finals in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
CM: Yasuhiko Okudera 奥寺 康彦
When soccer was still an amatuer sport in Japan, Okudera made his way to Germany.  He played with FC Klon and Werder Bremen in the 1980's. 

AM: Kazushi Kimura 木村 和司
He was a star midfielder in the 1980's.  He was Japan's Player of the Year in 1983, 1984 and 1989.  He played for Nissan Motors before the foundation of J-League.

AM: Shunsuke Nakamura 中村 俊輔
 He was a star player at Celtics.  He won the SPF Player of the year and SFWA Player of the Year in 2007.  Before that, he played with Reggina in Serie A.  He played in three WC Finals, but he was not selected for the WC in 2002 at home. 

AM:  Hidetoshi Nakata 中田 英寿
He was the first Japanese player who reached stardom in Europe.  He scored 10 goals in his first season with Perugia.  He had a successful substitute role with Roma, but he never settled down.  He also played with Parma, Fiorentina and Bologna.  He later went to play in England.

AM: Keisuke Honda 本田 圭佑
He is the current star of the Japanese national team.  He played in Holland and Russia before making a dream move to AC Milan in 2014.  He played in two WC Finals: 2010 and 2014. He is one of the best Japanese players.

AM Shinji Kagawa 香川 真司
He started with Cerezo Osaka before he starred for Borussia Dortmund.  He spent two quiet seasons with Manchester United before returning to Borussia Dortmund in the past summer.  
FW: Ryuichi Sugiyama 杉山 隆一
He won the bronze medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. He also participated in the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and scored 2 goals. He spent his entire career with Mitsubishi.

FW:  Kazuyoshi Miura 三浦 知良
He became the first Japanese footballer to play in Italy, joining Genoa for 1994-1995.  He was the Asian Player of the Year in 1993.  Despite being the best Japanese player in the 1990's, he never played in the WC Finals.  He was not selected for the 1998 WC in France.

ST: Masashi Nakayama 中山 雅史
In 1998, he scored the first goal for Japan in the history of the World Cup.  He spent most of his career with Jublio Iwata, a powerful team at the time. He won three J-League titles in 1997, 1999 and 2002.

ST:  Kunishige Kamamoto  釜本 邦茂
He won the bronze medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics, finishing as the tournament's top scorer with seven goals. He is often considered to be the greatest Japanese football player of all-time.  He played his entire career with Yanmar Diesel(Cerezo Osaka).

Honorable Mention
Naohiro Takahara 高原 直泰, Hisashi Kato 加藤 久 and Naoki Soma 相馬 直樹

Squad Explanation
Despite Japan's poor performance at the WC 2014 in Brazil, the current generation of Japanese players are among the best ever.  I included 5 players from the 2014 team.   

Starting lineup
Formation 4-2-1-3
  • I prefer Kawashima over Kawaguchi, whom I believed to have too many his lapse.
  • Nakata started on the right, but I could easily give that position to Miura.

Raymond Kopa: the playmaker behind Fontaine's 13 goals

It is well-known that Just Fontaine scored 13 goals at the WC Finals in 1958.  He is the world-holder for the number of goals scored in a single WC Finals.  This number considered amazing since no one came close to the record before or after him.  Ronaldo(Brazil)'s 8 goals in 2002 remained the closest ever to it.  Most of his goals were, however, contributed by his French teammate, Raymond Kopa.  Because of his performance, he was rewarded with the Ballon d'Or that year(Just Fontaine came third).

He was a creative midfielder known for his  playmaker skills and scoring ability.  He was nicknamed "Little Napoleon".  He was perhaps the best French player  of the French Golden Generation of 1950's.  Along with Roger Marche, Just Fontaine, Jean Vincent, Robert Jonquet, Armand Penverne, Dominique Colonna, and Roger Piantoni, France reached the semifinal of 1958 World Cup Finals.

Born in France of Polish background, he was widely considered to be the greatest French player before the emerge of Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane.  His grandparents moved to Germany, where his parents were born.  At the end of the First World War, France suffered a shortage of workers.  In September 1919 France signed a treaty with Poland permitting Polish workers to work legally within its borders.  His family moved to the north of France in search of a better life the same year.  They were a family of miners.  They settled in the small mining town of Nœux-les-Mines, not far from Lille.  In 1931, Raymond Kopaszewski was born.   The origin surname of  family was "Kopaszewski" before shortening to Kopa when he was a school boy.

To help his poor family, he became a miner at the age of 14.  By 18, he was well-known in his region for his football skills, but Kopa's talents was ignored by big clubs such as Lens and Lille.  He joined second division club SCO Angers.  He first made his name with Stade de Remis.  In 1953, he helped them to win the Latin Cup.  Three years later, they reached the Final of the first ever European Cup, where they lost to Alfredo Di Stefano's European Cup.  The following season, he joined the Spanish club, forming one of the greatest lineup in the history of the game.  He would win three European Cup titles playing with the best players in the world.  In the 1959 Final, Real Madrid played against his former club.  

with Di Stefano at Madrid

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Beckenbauer from the midfielder to sweeper

Franz Beckenbauer is forever known as the player who personified the sweeper position.  In reality, he played as a box-to-box midfielder for most of his career.  In 1966, he dominated the midfield at the World Cup Finals at the age of 20.  He ran and down the field.  He demonstrated his power and skills by scoring 4 brilliant goals.   By 1970, he was playing a more withdrew position, but not yet the sweeper position where he would became  known for.  Finally, he played his first WC as a sweeper in 1974, where he was credited for revolutionising the position.

Backenbauer the midfielder in 1966

Throughout the 1960's, Helmut Schön, the German manager at the time,  did not want Beckenbauer to play the sweeper role.   He believed that Beckenbauer should be playing as the link between midfield and attack.  His talents would be waste at the back.   Beckenbauer spent most of his playing time in the midfield while Germany used mainly Willi Schulz or Karl-Heinz Schnellinger as their sweeper. Many people in Germany shared the same view.  However, Beckenbauer viewed the sweeper position differently.  By playing behind the 9 other outfielders on his team,  he could see the entire field in front of him, not only a third.  The sweeper could control the attacks more thoroughly from behind.  

While Beckenbauer could not play the sweeper role with the national team, he got his opportunity to play there for his club team, Bayern Munich.  Tschik Cajkovski, the Bayern manager at that time, received a lot criticism for "wasting" Beckenbauer's talent at the back.  Soon, Bayern Munich found successes with Beckenbauer playing at the back.  Suddenly, Beckenbauer playing as an offensive-minded sweeper, it seemed, was visionary.   By 1971, public opinion switched.  Beckenbauer had physical prowess to tackle and play central defence.  He also had the intelligence to organise a defence and his ability as a playmaker allowed him to move the ball quickly up the field. The rest is well-known history in soccer.  Beckenbauer became known as the father of the offensive-minded sweeper as West Germany won the WC in 1974.

The Sweeper winning the World Cup in 1974

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

China (PRC) All-time 23 member team

Before the WC qualifiers for 1982, the Peoples' Republic of China had limited opportunities to compete internationally.  The national team known as China was actually the Republic of China playing with players from Hong Kong.  In 1982, China entered the World Cup Qualifiers for the first time since 1958 with star players Rong Zhixing and Gu Guangming from Guangdong. They nearly made it to Spain, but New Zealand beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 at Riyadh on the last match of the Final round and made up the goal difference. New Zealand won the playoff match.  Two years later, China once again reached the Final of the Asian Cup.  Jia Xiuquan emerged as one of the best defenders in Asia.  In 1988, they qualified for the Seoul Olympics, a full national team tournament for AFC.  In 1989, China once again nearly qualified for the WC Finals.  They were leading Qatar 1-0 at the last game of the AFC Final Round, a result that would send China to the Italy 1990, but China gave up 2 goals on the 87th minute and surrendered the berth to UAE.  China did not do well in the following World Cup qualifiers, but managed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup Finals.  Since 2002, China, however, seemed to have regressed.

GK: Li Fusheng 李富胜
He was the highest cap goalkeeper for China.  He went to the Asian Cup in 1976.  He was a part of the team who narrowly missed out in qualifying for the 1982 FIFA World Cup, losing to New Zealand in a play-off.  He was a member of Bayi team.

GK: Fu Yubin 傅玉斌
He spent his entire career with Liaoning where he won several Chinese league titles and the 1990 Asian Club Championship. For the national team,  he represented China in the 1992 Asian Cup where he aided them to a third-place finish.

GK: Ou Chuliang 区楚良
Ou was a player from Guangdong Hongyuan.  He also played for Shanghai Shenhua,  He was capped 75 times.  He went to he WC Finals 2002 as a backup.
RB: Sun Jihai 孙继海
Sun probably had the most successful career overseas among Chinese players.  He played 7 seasons for Manchester City.  Domestically, he started his career with Dalian Shide. He earned 80 caps.  He played only 25 minutes at the WC in 2002 because of an injury he received against Costa Rica.

Sun Jihai

RB: Zhu Bo 朱波
He was capped 83 times for China.  He was a key player as it took second place in the 1984 Asian Cup.  He played mainly for Bayi in the Chinese league.

CB:  Fan Zhiyi 范志毅
He was the Asian Player of the Year in 2002.   He captained China as it reached the WC Finals for the first time in 2002.  He played three seasons for Crystal Palace and became a captain there. In China, he played for clubs in Shanghai and Hong Kong. 

CM/CB: Zheng Zhi 郑智
He is best remembered for playing three seasons with Charlton Atletic in England.  He is also known for captaining Guangzhou Evergrade that won the AFC Champions' League in 2013 and 2015.  For the national team, he earned 94 caps.  He captained the under-23 national team that competed at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

CB: Li Weifeng 李玮峰
He was capped 112 times for China.  He played for various clubs in China.  He had a brief stint with Everton in England.  He played for Suwon Bluewings in the K-League. He earned 112 caps and went to the WC Finals in 2002. 

CB:  Jia Xiuquan 贾秀全
He was the Chinese captain from 1987 to 1992.  In 1984, he won the MVP award at the Asian Cup.  He joined FK Partizan in 1987 becoming one of the first Chinese to play in Europe.  He later played in Malaysia and Japan. 
Jia Xiuquan

LB: Mai Chao 麦超
He played his entire career with Guangzhou FC(which would become Guangzhou Evergrande).  He played 45 times for China between 1986 and 1992 and was at one point China's highest scoring defenders.

LB: Sun Xiang 孙祥
He became the first Chinese player to appear in a Champions' League match when he played for PSV Eindhoven against Arsenal in 2007.  He started his career with Shanghai Shenhua.  He also played in Austria and was a member of the all-conquering Guangzhou Evergrade.

CM: Xie Yuxin 谢育新
He was the foirst Chinese from PRC who played in Europe when he joined FC Zwolle in 1987.  He is originally from Guangdong.  He was capped 120 times and was the youngest ever national team player for China.
CM: Shao Jiayi 邵佳一
He played for Energie Cottbus, 1860 Munich, and MSV Duisburg as well as for Beijing Guoan.  He went to the WC in 2002. Shao was also a key player for the national team in the 2004 AFC Asian Cup where he scored three goals during the tournament which led China to finish as runners-up.

CM: Li Tie 李铁
Li first made his name with Liaoning FC in China.  Later, he secured a move to Everton, where he spent a very successful first season, but injuries had kept him from action for the next few seasons.  He earned 92 caps and played in the 2002 World Cup Finals. 

Li Tie

LW: Wu Qunli 吴群立
He was predominantly remembered for his time at Guangzhou FC.  He was the CFA Footballer of the Year in both 1990 and 1993.  He joined Hong Kong First Division League side South China in 1994.   For China, he was capped 39 times. He went to the 1988 Summer Olympics.

RW: Gu Guangming 古广明

He was a star in the 1980's.  He played for Guangzhou FC.  He went to Germany and played for SV Darmstadt 98 from 1987 to 1992, where he was a star player.  He was one of the first Chinese players to play in Europe. Gu led China narrowly missing the WC Finals in 1982.

AM: Ma Mingyu 马明宇
Ma played mainly before Sichuan Quanxing from his home province Sichuan and joined Perugia briefly in 2000.  For the national team, he would play in the 1996 AFC Asian Cup, 2000 AFC Asian Cup and captain China's campaign during the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

AM/FW: Rong Zhixing 容志行 
He was known as the "Chinese Pele".   He made his national team, debut in 1972 and retired in 1983.   He went to the Asian Cup in 1976.  He was a part of the team who narrowly missed out in qualifying for the 1982 FIFA World Cup, losing to New Zealand in a play-off. He was born on a ship heading to India from China.  He is from Taishan, Guangdong.

Rong Zhixing

FW: Zhao Dayu 赵达裕
Nicknamed "Dwarf Tiger" because of his short sature.  He went to the Asian Cup in 1984, where China finished second.  He played mainly for Guangdong FC.  He later played for Mitsubishi Motors F.C in Japan, where he would become a coach there.

ST: Ma Lin 马林
He played mainly Liaoning FC and won the 1988-1989 Asian Club Championship.  He played in the 1988 AFC Asian Cup, 1988 Summer Olympics and narrowly miss out of the in qualification for the 1990 FIFA World Cup.

ST: Liu Haiguang 柳海光
Liu spent the majority of his career playing for the Shanghai Team, however he gained distinction when he joined Yugoslav club FK Partizan along with Jia Xiuquan making them one of the earliest Chinese footballers to play in Europe.  On the international stage he represented China at the 1988 AFC Asian Cup and in the 1988 Summer Olympics. When he decided to retire from international football he had scored 36 goals for China national football team making him their top goalscorer. This record would however be broken by Hao Haidong several years later and currently Liu is the second highest goalscorer
ST: Yang Chen 杨晨
He started his career with Beijing Guoan.  After a short loan spell with SV Waldhof Mannheim, he gained a transfer to Eintracht Frankfurt in 1998.  He became the first Chinese player in Bundesliga, scoring 21 goals with the club.

ST: Hao Haidong 郝海东
He is widely viewed as China's greatest striker.  He played 107 times for China.  Hao enjoyed a stellar international career by playing at the 2002 FIFA World Cup and is the record top goalscorer with 41 goals for the Chinese national team.  For club football, He was best remembered for his years with Dalian Shide between 1997 and 2005, where he won 5 league titles. He also played for Baiyi and Sheffield United.

Hao Haidong

Honorable Mention
Zhao Junzhe 肇俊哲,  Zhang Linpeng, Li Bing 黎兵, Peng Weiguo 彭伟国, Jiang Jin 江津, Wu Lei 武磊.

Squad Explanation
  • I only selected players from the PRC.  Most of the players played in the 1980's.  Seven players came from Guangdong
  • Yang Chen played well in Germany, but not as good in China.
  • Rong Zhixing and Gu Guangming were probably two of China's biggest stars, but they were playing in an era when domestic league was not as well-known.
  • Lee Wai Tong is probably the greatest Chinese player, but he represented the Republic of China in the 1930's.  He starred at the 1938 Olympics.  He was born in Hong Kong.  Liked Hong Kong players of his generation, he represented the Republic of China.
  • I like what Wu Lei doing in the Chinese Super League.

Starting lineup