Beijing (AFP)

Li Tie, former midfielder of Everton, was made official as coach of the China football team on Thursday, charged by his federation to relaunch the qualification campaign for the 2022 World Cup after the sudden departure of the Italian Marcelo Lippi mid-November last.

Li Tie, who had already been acting during the East Asian Championship in South Korea last month, is "an exceptional representative" of Chinese football who was appointed after an open procedure, the federation (CFA) explained in a statement.

"It is estimated that under (his) leadership, the Chinese football team will work hard at training and scientifically prepare its mission with a great sense of honor," said the CFA.

Member of the selection at the 2002 World Cup, the 42-year-old former midfielder led the Wuhan Zall club before his appointment.

This comes after a year of turmoil for Chinese football until the sudden resignation of Lippi, throwing a little more doubt on the hopes of the government to make China a football superpower.

The Italian technician, 2006 world champion, had announced his resignation after the 2-1 defeat of his team against Syria during the qualifications for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, mid-November.

This failure left China in second place in its qualifying group, five points behind the Syrian leader, beating the Philippines only on goal difference.

Besides the first group, only the four best second of the eight pools in the Asia zone qualify for the third round, before hoping to reach the World Cup.

President Xi Jinping has stated goal of making China a host and even winner of the World Cup, a tournament in which the nation of 1.4 billion people participated only once, in 2002 , with a record of three defeats and no goals scored.

Lippi, 71, had resigned for the first time in January 2019 after guiding China to the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup, which ended in a 3-0 defeat against Iran.

He had passed the baton to his compatriot Fabio Cannavaro who had lost the first two games before giving up his place in May to Lippi for a second attempt making him one of the highest paid coaches in the world.

© 2020 AFP