Guus Hiddink appointed coach of Chinese Olympic team
Former Real Madrid and Netherlands coach Guus Hiddink has been tasked with ensuring China qualify for the finals of the 2020 Olympic Games football tournament after being appointed manager of the country's under-21 team on Monday.
Hiddink, 71, becomes the latest big name coach to move to China since the country's president, Xi Jinping, stated his desire for the nation to become a global football power.
He joins fellow European Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi on the payroll of the CFA, with the Italian World Cup winner preparing the senior team for the finals of the Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates in January.
Hiddink's appointment was announced on the Chinese FA's official website in a statement that said he will lead the country through to the 2020 Asian Under 23 Championship, which serves as the continent's final qualifiers for the Olympic Games.
"There is still a lot of work to do," Hiddink said in an interview with Dutch media after watching the team perform in a recent friendly tournament.
"To be honest, there were only four or five players in China who I thought: 'Yes, they are usable.' The rest came physically, tactically, conditionally and technically pretty short."
Hiddink is no stranger to football in the region, having led South Korea to the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup before taking Australia to the round of 16 for the first time four years later in Germany.
His most recent job saw him work as an interim head coach with Premier League side Chelsea.
China have not appeared at the Olympic football finals since 2008 when Beijing hosted the Games and the team were given an automatic berth.