New Nike kits for China soccer team are improvised
US sports gear giant Nike was caught off guard as the new sponsor of China's national soccer team and had to improvise kits and other equipment less than a week before the highly-anticipated Asian Cup campaign.
Nike struck a deal worth $16 million (100 million yuan) a year to be the team's gear supplier until 2026 after China Football Association ended its more than 30-year-old partnership with Adidas, Nike's biggest global competitor, at the end of 2014.
Nike was allowed to provide the new home shirts China will wear at the 2015 Asian Cup, featuring the traditional red color and white polo collar, while the away shirts will see a striking red vertical stripe running down and a red armband, according to Tencent Sports.
The design, though based on the golden fashion mantra "less is more", still drew criticism as some thought it was incomplete without the dragon element, the traditional Chinese totem.
Others supported Nike, arguing that the Asian Cup demand came at a short notice for Nike as usually companies get a year to start preparations for tailor-made kits for their clients.
China will kick off its Asian Cup competition with a Group B game against Saudi Arabia on Jan 10.
Chinese soccer fans, many of whom have been disheartened by the team's poor performance in past years, still pin their hopes on its better form in warm-ups and its new French coach Alain Perrin, who also sees the Asian Cup as a testing ground of his capabilities.
The men's team has often lit the fuse of public fury for their lack of spirit and energy following some fiascos, including the humiliating 5-1 defeat to a half-string Thailand team in a 2013 friendly.