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Croatian Ivankovic appointed head coach of China men's football team

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-24 11:56
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File photo of Branko Ivankovic. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING -- The Chinese Football Association announced on Saturday that Croatian Branko Ivankovic has been appointed head coach of the Chinese men's national team, replacing Aleksandar Jankovic of Serbia following the poor results from the Asian Cup.

"In order to prepare for the upcoming 2026 World Cup qualifiers, the CFA decided, after the assessment of experts, to hire Branko Ivankovic as the new head coach of China's men's national team," read a CFA statement.

Ivankovic, who turns 70 next week, had coached several European clubs, including Germany's Hannover 96 and Croatia's GNK Dinamo Zagreb, as well as the national teams of Iran and Oman.

The veteran coach also led Shandong Taishan to lift the Chinese Super League trophy in the 2010 season.

Jankovic was named China coach in February last year, and then led the Chinese team to overturn Thailand 2-1 in the opening match of 2026 World Cup qualifiers last November.

But the honeymoon period ended shortly as China failed to survive the group stage in the Asian Cup in January this year with two goalless ties and a 1-0 loss.

"Due to the Chinese team's failure to enter the knockout stage in Asian Cup, the contract between CFA and Jankovic terminated automatically," the CFA said. "The CFA is thankful for the hard work of coach Jankovic and his coaching team, and wish them all the best."

Ivankovic is set to make his debut in March, when China play against Singapore in back-to-back World Cup qualifiers.

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