Lippi to stay on until 2019 Asian Cup, says Chinese FA

Reuters
Marcello Lippi, who replaced Gao Hongbo last October, has kept China's slim hopes of qualifying for the next year's World Cup finals alive since taking over.
Reuters
Imaginechina

China's national team head coach Marcello Lippi.

Marcello Lippi will remain as China coach until at least the 2019 Asian Cup finals, the Chinese Football Association said on Thursday.

The Italian, who replaced Gao Hongbo last October, has kept China's slim hopes of qualifying for the next year's World Cup finals alive since taking over.

China takes on Uzbekistan and Qatar in its final two qualifiers over the coming weeks, with Lippi's team needing to win both and hope other results go its way to have any hope of progressing into the playoffs for a place in Russia.

"We will strictly carry out our contract with Lippi, which expires after the 2019 Asian Cup," the CFA said in an article posted on its website on Thursday.

"We won't interfere with his preparation and the line-up. In the meantime, we will support his group as always. We hope to support and trust each other."

By progressing to the final round of Asia's World Cup qualifiers, the Chinese have already secured their place at the quadrennial Asian Cup, which has been expanded to feature 24 teams for the first time in the United Arab Emirates in 2019.

China's best performance in the Asian Cup came on home soil in 2004, when it lost to Japan in the final. It reached the quarterfinals in the most recent edition, in Australia in 2015.

The team has shown some progress under Lippi, securing only its second win over South Korea in March, but its hopes of qualifying for a second World Cup finals were always remote after a poor start under Gao.

"Since October 22 last year, Lippi and his coaching staff have helped China to get one win, two draws and one defeat in the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup," said the CFA.

"The team has changed a lot tactically and mentally. We hereby take this opportunity to thank them all."

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