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Jankovic appointed head coach of Chinese national football team

By SHI FUTIAN| China Daily| Updated: February 27, 2023 L M S

Aleksandar Jankovic has been appointed head coach of China's men's soccer team, which is now in desperate need of a new manager to help the struggling national side out of its current slump.

The Chinese Football Association announced on Friday that the 50-year-old Serbian, who used to be head coach of China's under-23 squad, had been installed as the manager of the national men's team, after an assessment and discussion process of an expert group of the CFA.

The main goal for Jankovic, according to the CFA announcement, will be leading the national squad at the coming 2023 Asian Cup and the Asian qualification for the 2026 World Cup Finals.

Jankovic took over China's under-19 men's team in 2018, and since 2020 he has led the under-21 squad to prepare for this year's Hangzhou Asian Games. Last summer, he led the national side as a caretaker head coach, participating in the EAFF E-1 Football Championship in Japan.

CFA's announcement instantly became a trending topic on social media, with the hashtag "Jankovic becomes new Team China head coach" having been viewed over 75 million times on Weibo. However, pundits and fans haven't shown their high expectations on the new head coach online, as many believed Jankovic alone seems not to be enough to save Team China from its current alltime low.

"The arrival of Jankovic was like a drink of fresh water for Team China that has been having a long walk in a desert. But the question remains — will Jankovic be the man who eventually leads Team China out of the desert?" read a commentary on Chinanews.com.

China's men's soccer team has suffered major setbacks in the past few years. Back in 2019, Italian World Cup winner Marcello Lippi was at the helm, and he was given high expectations to steer Team China to a successful qualifying campaign for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Final in Qatar.

However, even with expensive imported naturalized players, Lippi's squad still suffered a series of defeats that resulted in the Italian's resignation. In January 2020, former China international and Everton midfielder Li Tie took over the national team. Li Tie enjoyed some initial success, as he helped Team China secure a place in the final phase of Asian zone qualifying.

Since then, China's campaign has unraveled, as continuous defeats led to Li Tie's resignation at the end of 2021. He was placed under investigation for suspected violations of discipline and the law in November.


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