China's beleaguered national football team is looking to Germany to improve its fortunes.
After the humiliating exit from the 2006 World Cup qualifiers earlier this month, Chinese Football Association(CFA) officials are vowing to take action - and hope Germany can provide the inspiration to build a highly organized, diligent, mighty footballing force.
A specially-assembled group, called the 2008-Star Team consisting of 27 young and promising Chinese football players, will undergo a two-year-long training session at Bad Kissingen known for its advanced sports training and recuperation facilities.
"We choose Bad Kissingen because Germany is a footballing giant and we want to use their knowledge as a long-term training basis for China's football," said Nan Yong, vice president of the CFA.
"We want to build an exchange platform with Europe's top football nations in terms of youth training, coaching and team physio training," Nan said.
The CFA has been increasing its efforts to develop a reserve team fit for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing ever since the nation's football league plunged into disrepute. Allegations of black whistles - biased refereeing - match-fixing, player walk-offs and a poor performance at national level have plagued the country's professional clubs.
The talented 27, a selection from the nation's best youth players aged between 15-19, will form the core of the 2008 Olympic team.
Eckhard Krautzun, a former German Olympic team member with 35-years of coaching career, has been appointed as head coach. He will have one "stamina coach" from Germany, and three assistant coaches from China plus a goalkeeping coach.
Krautzan, a German whose coaching career highlights include leading Canada and Tunisia into the World Cup finals, said his "rich experience" could help improve China's football hopes.
"I had coaching experiences with competitions at club, national levels and international levels. I have attended the coaching courses in German and Spain," said Krautzun.
"I should thank the China's Football Association for giving me such a chance, and I believe the team will show a great improvement in the following years."
A number of competitions with top level teams have been scheduled to improve competitiveness, he added.
An official match every week and international matches every month are planned.
"I will send two players to each German Bundesliga club. The clubs told me that they are willing to have Chinese players to train with them," said Krautzun.
"We will play matches all over Europe and make sure they get used to different styles and levels of football."
Krautzun revealed a match against a German student national team has been planned for December 12th. The team will then travel to Argentina for 3-4 weeks where they will play 6 matches against teams including the Boca Juniors reserve team and Argentina U-19 national team.
Krauzun also promised the players' off-pitch education.
The idea was greatly welcomed as recent Chinese professional footballers have long been under fire for their lack of literacy and education, leading to questionable behaviour on and off the pitch.
"We will have education in Germany. You can not develop mentally if you just play football from morning to evening. Without the mental capability, they will not know how to win matches in the future," said the coach.
They will attend English and German classes regularly and lectures to develop their psychological and mental ability.
To dig out more potential players, scouting will continue and both Chinese officials and coaches appear optimistic that there will be a good achievement in 2008.
"There should be and must be an aim for Chinese football to win a medal at the 2008 Olympics on home soil," Krautzun said.
This is not the first time China has sent it's footballers overseas for training.
The Jianlibao youth team was sent to Brazil in 1993 for a five-year training programme, producing a number of widely-known stars, among them Li Tie, the midfielder of premier league club Everton, Li Jinyu, Chinese international forward and Li Weifeng, a pillar in national team's defence all are familiar idols to the Chinese fans.