China call on Lippi in last minute bid to turn World Cup qualifying around

October 24 – In its determination to become a serious force on the world football stage, China have appointed Italy’s World Cup-winning manager Marcello Lippi to become its new national coach.

The 68-year-old Lippi led Italy to the 2006 World Cup title, won five Italian league titles as manager of Juventus as well as the Champions League, and more recently won three Chinese league titles while in charge Guangzhou Evergrande before announcing his retirement in 2014.

The deal is reportedly worth €50 million which would make Lippi one of the highest-paid coaches in the world.

China has only once made the World Cup finals and is currently ranked 84th in the world. It is in seriously danger of missing out on Russia in 2018 and its previous coach, Gao Hongbo, resigned after a 2-0 loss on October 11 to Uzbekistan which itself followed a 1-0 home defeat to war-torn Syria, after which fans were seen protesting in the streets.

China is trying to become a global football superpower by 2050 in a drive led by President Xi Jinping that features a 50-point plan.  While the Chinese Super League teams have lured a raft of overseas stars on big-money deals and performed well in the Asian Champions League, the national men’s team has shown little sign of advancing  and are currently bottom of Group A in Asia with one point from four World Cup qualifiers, highlighting the task facing Lippi despite all his experience.

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