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Proud Li Tie says coaching China 'a very important dream'

Beijing: Former Everton midfielder Li Tie says that he has realised a childhood dream by becoming head coach of China PR.

The 42-year-old, who succeeds Italian FIFA World Cup winner Marcello Lippi, also revealed that his initial contract is only until the middle of this year.

Li was named to the top job in Chinese football on Thursday, tasked with reviving their hopes of reaching the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Finals.

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Li, once an assistant to Lippi, said: "It took me 35 years, from a child who can't play football, to today becoming the head coach of the Chinese national team.

"I'm really very happy. I can say very proudly to my children, 'Your dad realised a very important dream'."

Li must rescue China's 2022 qualifying hopes after Lippi's abrupt resignation following a 2-1 defeat to Syria in November.

China lie second in Group A, eight points behind Syria. Only the top team in each group automatically goes through to the next stage.

Li, whose first match in charge will be a March qualifier home to the Maldives, said: "My contract with the Chinese Football Association is until June 9, 2020.

"If we qualify for the next stage of the qualifiers, then my contract will be automatically extended to the next stage... of the qualifiers."

Li was in the team that played in the 2002 World Cup, China's only appearance at football's top table.

"Even if the national team had signed me for a one-day contract, I would not hesitate," Li said.

"When you have the opportunity to work for your country, you really don't need to think over it or hesitate."

Li is already familiar with the national coaching set-up having been in temporary charge during the East Asian championships in Korea Republic last month.

Li, who made 40 appearances for Everton after joining in 2002, took Wuhan Zall to sixth in the Chinese Super League last season and was one of three Chinese coaches interviewed by the Chinese Football Association (CFA) to follow Lippi.

Source: AFP

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