China replaces football coach after Asian Cup failure

By Reuters   February 24, 2024 | 04:07 am PT
China replaces football coach after Asian Cup failure
Oman head coach Branko Ivankovic at the press conference ahead of the World Cup qualifying match against Vietnam in Hanoi, March 23, 2022. Photo by VnExpress
Branko Ivankovic has been named China's new head coach, replacing Aleksandar Jankovic after the Serbian failed to take the country beyond the group phase of last month's Asian Cup.

The Chinese Football Association announced the move on Saturday. Ivankovic will lead the team into back-to-back World Cup qualifiers with Singapore on March 21 and 26.

"Due to the Chinese team's failure to enter the knockout stage in Asian Cup, the contract between CFA and Jankovic terminated automatically," the organization said in a statement.

"The CFA is thankful for the hard work of coach Jankovic and his coaching team, and wish them all the best."

Ivankovic was appointed "after the assessment of experts" and has previous experience in the country, winning the Chinese Super League title in 2010 during an 18-month spell with Shandong Luneng.

The 69-year-old also coached Iran at the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany and has won league titles in his native Croatia as well as in Iran with Persepolis.

He took Oman to the third round of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup but left his role in the Gulf state after also exiting the Asian Cup in the group phase in January.

China have only qualified for the World Cup once, making their debut appearance at the finals in 2002.

They are currently third in Group C of the second round of Asia's preliminaries for the 2026 finals after two matches, trailing leaders South Korea by three points.

Only two nations will advance to the next round of qualifying.

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