The 2010 World Cup draw is China's worst ever, the team's manager said yesterday after they were pitted against Australia, Iraq and Qatar.
"Indeed, the result of the grouping was the worst in the history of the China team. Today's draw was a big shock and upset for our football sector," manager Wei Shaohui told the official Xinhua news agency.
Another unnamed China Football Association official described Sunday's draw as the worst possible for China.
"Nothing could be worse ... now we only have ourselves to rely on," he was quoted as saying in the Beijing Times newspaper.
Wei said that the tough grouping would motivate China to work even harder to qualify for the finals for only the second time in the country's history.
"I don't accept the idea of a `group of death' -- one can only say the China team is facing a lot of difficulties," he said.
"I believe our team members will see this as a force of motivation," he told Xinhua. "Looking at the result of the draw, you should know what to do and how to prepare."
Wei said the team will start training next month and will at the same time start collecting information on the other group members.
China have qualified for the World Cup finals only once, in 2002, when they were eliminated in the first round after losing all their matches and without scoring a goal.