Marcello Lippi attends a news conference in Agadir, December 13, 2013.[Photo/Agencies]
Chinese soccer will develop along more professional lines and the national team is expected to perform better in major international tournaments, following the hiring of World Cup-winning 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 top-class 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 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 (.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 high-level 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."