Can this man save China’s World Cup dreams?

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

MAR­CELLO Lippi will earn al­most US$5 mil­lion a year as China coach but will pocket far more through a tie-in with a foot­ball academy, state me­dia said yes­ter­day.

The 68-year-old Ital­ian was named boss of the na­tional team by the Chi­nese Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (CFA) on Oc­to­ber 22. He has the tricky goal of steer­ing the Asian gi­ant to qual­ify for the 2018 World Cup – a near-im­pos­si­ble feat given re­cent losses to Uzbek­istan and war-torn Syria.

Lippi’s an­nual salary “should be 4.5 mil­lion eu­ros [US$4.9 mil­lion]” said state broad­caster CCTV on an of­fi­cial so­cial me­dia ac­count.

But the of­fer made to the Ital­ian also in­cludes in­come from Guangzhou Ever­grande’s foot­ball academy which will pay “Lippi and his team” 15.5 mil­lion eu­ros an­nu­ally to act as of­fi­cial “ad­vis­ers” for the es­tab­lish­ment, CCTV said.

The club, which is rid­ing high atop the Chi­nese Su­per League, did not con­firm the fig­ure when con­tacted by AFP.

Lippi coached Ever­grande to great heights, leading the side to three con­sec­u­tive Su­per League ti­tles be­tween 2012 and 2014.

He was due to work with the club next sea­son, but Ever­grande an­nounced Satur­day it was breaking the agree­ment so the Ital­ian could take the reins at a na­tional level.

Lippi is com­mit­ted to Guangzhou’s foot­ball academy un­til “the end of Jan­uary 2019”, CCTV said. The CFA did not give de­tails about the length of Lippi’s con­tract. The Guangzhou-based South­ern

Me­trop­o­lis Daily, cit­ing sources close to the Ital­ian, re­ported that “as well as the CFA, the high­est levels of govern­ment also in­vited Lippi” to coach the na­tional side, a move that had “a di­rect bear­ing on his de­ci­sion”.

Im­prov­ing the level of foot­ball at club and na­tional level has been a pri­or­ity for Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping. Even be­fore tak­ing of­fice he un­der­lined his am­bi­tions for China to qual­ify for the World Cup, to host the event and to one day win it.

Lippi, who mas­ter­minded Italy to their most re­cent World Cup tri­umph in 2006, has his work cut out in his lat­est as­sign­ment.

China, the most pop­u­lous na­tion on earth, lan­guish a lowly 84th in the FIFA world rank­ings – sand­wiched be­tween Kenya and Gu­atemala.

They have claimed just one point from four games in the lat­est World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion phase and are bot­tom in Group A, which in­cludes Iran, Uzbek­istan, South Korea, Syria and Qatar. –

Photo: AFP

Mar­cello Lippi faces a daunt­ing task: pow­er­ing China’s 84th-ranked na­tional team to the World Cup.

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