Veteran coach

Na­tional soc­cer team’s hopes on shoul­ders of new hire

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By QIUQUANLIN in Guangzhou qiuquanlin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Chi­nese soc­cer will de­velop along more pro­fes­sional lines andthe na­tional team is ex­pected to per­form bet­ter in ma­jor in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ments, fol­low­ing the hir­ing of World Cup­win­ning coach Mar­cello Lippi, soc­cer in­sid­ers say.

“As a veteran coach, Lippi will help re­shape the Chi­nese style of play, es­pe­cially in ma­jor in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions ,” said Xie Liang, a veteran soc­cer com­men­ta­tor at Ra­dio Guang­dong.

Lippi, 68, who led Italy to its most re­cent World Cup tri­umph in 2006, was named head coach of the na­tional team on Satur­day by the Chi­nese Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion, at a time when the coun­try has a slim chance of qual­i­fy­ing for the 2018 FIFA World Cup tour­na­ment in Rus­sia.

“I am proud to an­nounce the start of a new ad­ven­ture as coach of the Chi­nese na­tional team,” Lippi tweeted, af­ter sign­ing a con­tract with the CFA on Satur­day in Guangzhou, Guang­dong province.

“Lippi will not al­low any in­ter­fer­ence by play­ers or by of­fi­cials of the gov­ern­ing body in terms of manag­ing the team,” Xie said.

Coached by Gao Hongbo, a former na­tional team player, China claimed only one point in four games in the lat­est World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion round and sits bot­tom of Group A.

“It will be a very tough and chal­leng­ing job for Lippi,” Xie said. “But coach­ing by a top­class tal­ent will def­i­nitely mark the be­gin­ning of a new era for Chi­nese soc­cer.”

The deal be­tween Lippi and the CFA came shortly af­ter Chi­nese club Guangzhou Ever­grande an­nounced on Satur­day the can­cel­la­tion of a con­tract with Lippi that was signed in early Au­gust.

The sil­ver-haired Lippi, who steered the team to three con­sec­u­tive do­mes­tic league ti­tles from 2012, took over the new

It will be a very tough and chal­leng­ing job for Lippi.” Xie Liang, soc­cer com­men­ta­tor at Ra­dio Guang­dong

po­si­tion fol­low­ing China’s draw with South Korea and three con­sec­u­tive losses to Iran, Syria and Uzbek­istan in qual­i­fy­ing matches.

“Lippi might not suc­cess­fully take China to Rus­sia, but a pro­fes­sional man­age­ment ap­proach will be of great im­por­tance for the de­vel­op­ment of Chi­nese soc­cer,” Xie said.

Rob­bie Fowler, a former Liverpool and Eng­land striker, said he hoped the Chi­nese na­tional team would de­velop un­der the coach­ing of Lippi.

“Whether you are the Chi­nese na­tional team or any other, if you have a man­ager who is tech­ni­cally very good and will bring out the best in your play­ers, then you will de­velop your game,” he said.

Fowler was in Haikou, Hainan province, at­tend­ing a golf tour­na­ment and play­ing soc­cer with a num­ber of Chi­nese youth over the week­end.

Many Chi­nese fans, how­ever, said the soc­cer gov­ern­ing body should fo­cus on youth soc­cer train­ing, rather than spend­ing so much on a top-level coach like Lippi, who is re­port­edly be­ing paid about 20 mil­lion euros ($21.7 mil­lion) a year in a three-year con­tract with the CFA.

Cao Xun­sheng, who runs a non­govern­men­tal soc­cer train­ing base in Guangzhou, said: “Lippi and other high­level in­ter­na­tional coaches can­not save Chi­nese soc­cer in the short term. The coun­try needs to in­vest more in build­ing fa­cil­i­ties and in­creas­ing the num­ber of young play­ers.”

XIN­HUA

Mar­cello Lippi, aWorld Cup-win­ning coach, shakes hands with Cai Zhen­hua, pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion, in Guangzhou, Guang­dong province, on Sun­day, as Xu Ji­ayin, chair­man of Ever­grande Group, looks on. Lippi was hired as coach of the Chi­nese na­tional team.

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