He has not worked since leaving the post of Italian coach following the
national side’s ignominious performance in 2010, when they became the first
defending champions to exit at the group stage.
The Guangzhou Evergrande announcement follows persistent media rumours about
Lippi’s highly anticipated move and comes despite manager Lee Jang-Soo this
week taking the team into the AFC Champions League knock-out rounds.
The club said Lee, a South Korean, would step down as head coach, but it was
unclear whether he would stay on in another capacity.
Speaking at a press conference from Guangzhou that was broadcast live on
Chinese state television, Lippi – who also won several Serie A titles – said
he was first contacted by the club in May last year.
“I dispatched an assistant to go see the club’s matches, which made me even
more determined. I am very enthusiastic about coming to China,” he said.
Football clubs in China have recently gone on a spending spree for foreign
imports they hope will help raise the success of their teams, after the
sport’s reputation in the country was badly damaged by a match-fixing
In December, Shanghai Shenhua snapped up ex-Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka and
they also signed France’s Jean Tigana ashead coach, but soon terminated his
contract after a dismal start to the season.
In its statement, Guangzhou Evergrande thanked former coach Lee for his
services and said the decision to let him go had been amicable.
Lee led Guangzhou back to China’s top flight and claimed last year’s Super
League title after the club had been relegated over the corruption scandal,
in which some officials remain before the courts.
But he became embroiled in a public row with Conca after the Argentine
strongly criticised his substitution in this month’s 3-1 Champions League
defeat to South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
Conca was fined and given a nine-match ban – which was then embarrassingly
lifted for this week’s Champions League game against Thailand’s Buriram
United. He scored a last-gasp penalty to secure victory and a place in the
According to the official Xinhua news agency, Lee announced his departure at
Bangkok airport after Guangzhou’s 2-1 win over Buriram on Tuesday. On their
return to China, some players were in tears.
“I will no longer be your coach after we return to Guangzhou. You are all
professional players, you should continue working hard in your future
career,” Lee, 55, was reported as saying.
Fans held up banners saying, “Don’t go!”, and, “Guangzhou thank you!”, as
defender Zhang Linpeng paid tribute to the South Korean coach.
“Together, we have gone through good days and bad days. We have achieved so
many glories. You are the best coach. I will never forget you,” Zhang
Online, Chinese fans broadly welcomed Lippi’s appointment, but some expressed
amazement that he would come to the Asian nation.
“To be a coach in Chinese football? Lippi clearly wants to shatter his
reputation,” one wrote.
Others expressed reservations about the timing of Lee’s departure.
“The top brass at Guangzhou Evergrande should listen to fans – Lippi is
outstanding, but he still needs a break-in period with the team,” one fan
wrote on Sina’s popular microblog.
“They must be prudent after qualifying for the AFC knock-out stages, otherwise
the team will fail when they were so near success.”
Article source: http://telegraph.feedsportal.com/c/32726/f/568303/s/1f70f6ec/l/0L0Stelegraph0O0Csport0Cfootball0C927170A30CWorld0ECup0Ewinning0EItalian0Ecoach0EMarcello0ELippi0Etakes0Echarge0Eof0EChinese0ESuper0ELeague0Eclub0EGuangzhou0EEvergrande0Bhtml/story01.htm