24.02.2024 07:51 h

Croatian Ivankovic appointed coach of Chinese men's football team

Croatian Branko Ivankovic has been appointed head coach of the Chinese men's national football team, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) announced on Saturday.

The 69-year-old Ivankovic had been coach of Oman's national team since 2020.

He replaces Serbian Aleksandar Jankovic, who was tapped to lead the Chinese squad in February last year but had a disappointing run at the Asian Cup.

China was eliminated after two draws and a defeat by eventual champions Qatar, who retained their crown earlier this month.

The Chinese government has great ambitions for the national team, but it currently languishes in 88th place in football governing body FIFA's rankings -- the same position it occupied a decade ago.

Ivankovic's appointment comes at a troubled time for Chinese football.

In a documentary aired on state broadcaster CCTV in January, former national men's football coach Li Tie admitted fixing matches for lower-tier clubs as he worked his way to the upper echelons of the sport.

And Chen Xuyuan, a former CFA head, pleaded guilty to taking millions in bribes in a corruption trial last month.

The football prosecutions are part of a major anti-corruption drive initiated a decade ago by President Xi Jinping.