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Soccer-CFA president confirms Li to remain at China's helm

Soccer-CFA president confirms Li to remain at China's helm

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - World Cup - Asia Qualifiers - Second Round - Group A - China v Philippines - Sharjah Football Stadium, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates - June 7, 2021 China's head coach Li Tie REUTERS/Christopher Pike/File Photo

REUTERS: Li Tie will continue to lead China's national team after steering his side into the final round of Asia's preliminaries for the 2022 World Cup, the president of the Chinese Football Association confirmed on Tuesday.

The former Everton midfielder, who took over as head coach following Marcello Lippi's resignation, led the Chinese to four straight wins this month to secure a berth in the next round of qualifying for Qatar.

"We evaluate the coaching staff every year and as long as the team is making progress, the coaching staff will stay as they are," CFA president Chen Xuyuan told state news agency Xinhua.

"We won't change the coach for just losing a game or two.

"Li is now focusing on the team's preparations for the final round of the World Cup Asian qualifiers."

China will join 11 other Asian nations in the draw on July 1 for the final phase of the continent's preliminaries, when four guaranteed places in Qatar will be at stake. A potential fifth berth is available through a series of playoffs.

Li initially signed a contract until June 2020 after taking charge of the team following Lippi's resignation in November 2019 in the wake of a damaging 2-1 loss to Syria during World Cup qualifiers.

The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to the qualifying schedule for almost 18 months, but upon its resumption the Chinese showed a marked improvement with Li leading the team to wins over Guam, the Maldives, the Philippines and Syria.

Those victories sealed second place in their qualifying group behind the Syrians and meant the Chinese advanced as one of the best runners-up to the next round, which is scheduled to begin in September.

Progress to the final round keeps China's hopes alive of qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 2002, when the country made their debut appearance the competition.

(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Source: Reuters

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