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New Evergrande manager sets lofty goals

Updated: 2014-11-06 07:55
By Qiu Quanlin in Guangzhou (China Daily)

In a question-and-answer session during a news conference on Wednesday announcing him as the new executive manager of the Chinese domestic soccer league champion Guangzhou Evergrande, Fabio Cannavaro said he would not be the most handsome coach in China.

"As long as Marcello Lippi stays with the team, I will not be the most handsome soccer manager in China," Cannavaro said.

The 41-year-old Italian, who is considered one of the greatest defenders of all time and who spent most of his career in Italy, said he had another ambition: to lead the four-time champion of the Chinese Super League to a higher stage in coming seasons.

"As Lippi did in the past two seasons, I will work hard with the team to make it stay on top in Asia," he said.

Cannavaro, who was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2006, signed a three-year contract with the Guangzhou-based club on Wednesday. His predecessor, Lippi, announced that he would leave the bench immediately after the club claimed its fourth-consecutive domestic league championship on Sunday.

"Lippi will still stay with the club, serving as head coach and helping Cannavaro lead the team to more trophies in the next three seasons," said Liu Yongzhuo, chairman of Guangzhou Evergrande.

Liu said Lippi's decision to step down and work behind Cannavaro, who captained the Italian squad to win the World Cup in 2006, was based on his age and health.

Signing a contract with Cannavaro, who served as a technical manager with Al Ahli in Dubai after his retirement in 2011, was part of the Guangzhou club's strategy for development, according to Liu.

"More important, Lippi wanted the club to make a sustainable development in the near future.

"That's why he recommended a younger coach with abundant playing experience to coach the team," Liu said.

According to Liu, the club would increase investment to "upgrade" the squad, as competition in the domestic and Asian leagues has become tougher.

"We hope to claim a fifth-consecutive domestic league championship next year," Liu said. "Moreover, we will continue to fight for the Asian crown."

Guangzhou Evergrande won the AFC Champions League title in 2013 after World Cup-winning coach Lippi, 66, became the most expensive head coach in Chinese league history to manage the Guangzhou team, in May 2012.

After the introduction of several world-renowned players, the Guangzhou team dominated the domestic league following its promotion to the top league in 2010.

However, the team found it hard to defend the Chinese title this year, as a growing number of clubs have boosted their strength by investing more in international players and coaches.

For example, Evergrande fought hard to beat city rival Guangzhou R&F in a derby game this year.

"Chinese clubs need to increase investment to introduce international players and coaches who can help promote the level of their domestic counterparts," said Xie Liang, a veteran soccer commentator with Radio Guangdong.

According to Xie, Chinese clubs should introduce a sustainable development strategy, rather than a short-term plan, to compete on the international stage.

"Veteran international coaches and players would help boost understanding of soccer for their Chinese counterparts," Xie said.

New Evergrande manager sets lofty goals

Fabio Cannavaro, newly appointed executive manager of Chinese domestic league champion Guangzhou Evergrande, meets with reporters on Wednesday. Wu Zhizhao / For China Daily

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