Marcello Lippi is set to return for a second stint in charge of China’s national team as the country targets a place at the 2022 World Cup.
The Chinese Football Association announced Friday that the 71-year-old Lippi, who guided Italy to the World Cup title in 2006, will start back next month. He ended his initial 27-month tenure after China’s exit in the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup in January.
“When Lippi was previously in charge of the national team, the players showed a positive attitude and a fighting spirit,” the CFA said in a statement.
“We believe that with Lippi and his team of assistant coaches, the Chinese men's football team will leave no stone unturned in realizing their dream of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.”
China’s only appearance at the sport’s marquee tournament was in 2002 when the World Cup was co-hosted by South Korea and Japan.
Lippi, who led Juventus to the UEFA Champions League title in 1996 and China’s Guangzhou Evergrande to the Asian version in 2013, first took the China job in October 2016 during the last round of qualification for the 2018 World Cup. He didn't meet that objective.
Qualification for the 2022 World Cup starts in September. Lippi succeeds fellow Italian Fabio Cannavaro, who had a brief stint in charge of China’s national team while also remaining head coach of Guangzhou in the Chinese Super League.
Cannavaro, the 2006 World Cup-winning captain, quit as national coach after two losses in March to focus on his club duties with Guangzhou.