2017 GREE China Cup football championship to kick off in January

Updated 2016-12-09 11:05:31 Xinhua

The GREE China Cup international football championship is set to be inaugurated in January 2017, with the participation of Chile, Croatia, Iceland and China, according to organizers.

"We are only inviting overseas teams that ranked among the top 30 in the FIFA world rankings," said Wang Jianlin, president of the Wanda Group which initiated the China Cup, under the auspices of the Chinese Football Association (CFA).

"We hope that China Cup will become a great platform for the Chinese national team to play against top-class teams in the world, and also a great opportunity to promote the development of the sports industry in China," said Wang.

Organizers said that both Wanda Group and the CFA have inked a 10-year agreement regarding the China Cup, an A-grade international event acknowledged by the world football ruling body FIFA.

To open up the first China Cup on January 10, the host team will take on Iceland, who currently rank 21st and pulled off a miracle in 2016 by making the last eight of the European championship for the first time.

Also invited to the China Cup are the fourth-ranked Chile, who won the last two editions of the Copa America by beating Argentina twice in the final, and the star-studded Croatia who rank 14th in the world.

The first China Cup will be played in Nanning, capital of southwestern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The winner between China and Iceland will play against the winner between Chile and Croatia for the crown on January 15.

Zhang Jian, CFA vice president, said that the China Cup will provide an opportunity both for China's Italian coach Marcello Lippi to tune up his squad, and for the Chinese players to sharpen their skills for the remaining World Cup qualifiers which will resume in March.

"Many thanks to the organizers for providing us the chance to play and learn from world-class opponents. Our coaching staff are trying to work out a list of players who can represent the national team for the championship," said Li Tie, assistant coach of the Chinese team.

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