Big questions for Cannavaro: Cup campaign chance for new China coach to convince skeptics

Sports | 20 Mar 2019

Fabio Cannavaro's first task as China football coach may be to win over a skeptical public after his appointment was met with criticism and even anger.

Former players and state media questioned the credentials of the 2006 World Cup winner and World Player of the Year, who is yet to claim a major trophy as a coach.

The Chinese Football Association has not made it clear if it was a permanent or temporary role for Cannavaro, who will remain in charge of Chinese Super League giants Guangzhou Evergrande.

"In his time as a player, Cannavaro was great, but as a coach, he still has achieved nothing," the Youth Daily commented, saying his appointment had "caused public uproar".

"Cannavaro's achievements as a player are undisputed," former international Li Yan told the newspaper. "However, his decisions during games and performance as a head coach are not convincing enough."

The 45-year-old Italian's ascension to the post - with mentor and predecessor Marcello Lippi remaining as an adviser - was widely predicted. But skeptics said the former Juventus and Real Madrid center-back has done little to prove he deserves the job after it was confirmed in a low-key announcement last week.

In Cannavaro's first full season with Evergrande last year, the team relinquished their seven-year grip on the league trophy. Previously, Cannavaro had a seven-month spell with Evergrande before being sacked in 2014. He won promotion with Tianjin Quanjian in 2016, steering them to third in the league the following year.

"His familiarity and understanding of Chinese football may be his greatest advantage," the Youth Daily said.

There is speculation that the hosts' two games in this week's China Cup will be an audition for the former defender to get the job permanently. Eight Evergrande players were named in the squad ahead of tomorrow's clash with Thailand and Monday's game against Uzbekistan or Uruguay.

The Guangzhou Daily noted that Cannavaro's appointment came just days after Evergrande were humbled 3-1 by South Korean newcomers Daegu in Asia's Champions League. "Is he good enough to take up the responsibility of Evergrande and the national football team?" it asked. "These are still question marks."


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