|A Beijing Guoan fan displays her team's scarf. (CRIENGLISH.com)|
While the Chinese national men's football team continues to search for a winning streak, the domestic league remains incredibly popular. Club games in China regularly attract tens of thousands of fans. Beijing's top team Guoan is one of the biggest with many supporters coming just to watch the players train. Dominic Swire visited one practice session to ask onlookers what's behind their love of the game.
Beijing Guoan is one of China's top domestic football clubs.
This is what it sounds like on match day.
The Workers' Stadium seats 30 thousand and it's full of supporters wearing their team's green colours.
Some of these fans are so passionate they even come to watch training sessions.
Just beside the main stadium dozens of Chinese draped in green scarfs and shirts watch their favourite players warm up and practice ball skills.
Dominic Swire asks some what's behind their love of the game.
Dominic: "Why do you like football?"
"I think it's because of the passion and the atmosphere of the matches. Football is all about teamwork, it's not like tennis or other individual games. I like sports that need cooperation. But the passion of the match also makes us excited."
"My dad watched football when I was small so I watched with him. He took me to matches, so gradually I got into it. The atmosphere in the Workers' Stadium is the best!"
"I can't say how much I love this team; it's just an important part of my heart without which my life would feel empty and colorless. It's a kind of belief."
Suddenly one of Beijing Guoan's top foreign stars appears.
Peter Utaka is a striker from Nigeria
He's immediately surrounded by fans asking for photos and autographs.
Dominic: "You've played football around the world, so how do you rate the development of the sport in China?"
"Actually, it's amazing because it's growing very big and fast. I can say it's an honour for me to be here to help them develop the league. And of course you can see lots of world class players as well are here. Some have left but some are still coming so they also help to develop the league and make it more exciting than it was before."
But despite the popularity of the domestic game, internationally, the country's failed to deliver.
A recent 5:1 home defeat to a weakened team from Thailand prompted national outrage and cost the manager his job.
So what's the problem?
"For me I think they still need time to get the right players into the national team because they have quality players but they have to stick together and work together as a team. But I think in the near future China's going to be one of the toughest teams in Asia."
But do the Beijing Guoan fans watching this training session share Utaka's belief?
"I think it's not that we play badly, it's more about attitude. As long as Chinese footballers keep the right frame of mind, they can be successful in Asia or even the world. They're not weak, they're just sometimes not serious enough in some matches. Like in the East Asian Cup this year, the national team surprised us. They showed us they have potential."
Although they didn't win, a respectable position of second behind rivals Japan in this year's East Asian Cup has given many fans hope this could be the start of a renaissance of China's national team.