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Hiddink takes charge of China's Olympic team

Guus Hiddink

Shanghai, September 10: Former Russia and Netherlands boss Guus Hiddink has been appointed coach of China's Under-21 side after returning to work in Asia for the first time since 2002.

Hiddink, 71, led South Korea to the World Cup semi-finals at their home tournament in 2002 and he has now been tasked with ensuring China's young players qualify for the 2020 AFC Under-23 Championship to give them a chance of reaching the 2020 Olympic Games.

The Dutchman's last job in football was as interim manager of Chelsea during 2015-16, when he helped the club finish 10th in the Premier League after a poor start to the season under Jose Mourinho.

Hiddink joins another well-known veteran coach, the Italian World Cup-winner Marcello Lippi, in taking a major role in China's aggressive push to finally become a force in international football.

Top coaches such as Luiz Felipe Scolari, Fabio Capello, Manuel Pellegrini and Andre Villas Boas have also had stints with clubs in the Chinese Super League.

The 70-year-old Lippi has been in charge of the senior side since 2016 and has overseen marginal improvement, although China still failed to reach the World Cup in Russia and languish at 75th in the FIFA ranking

Like Lippi, Hiddink comes with a wealth of experience at club and international level.

In addition to his two interim stints at Chelsea, he also coached Real Madrid, PSV Eindhoven and Valencia, among others.

A statement on the China Football Association's official website said: "The team will be prepared for the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship qualification with the aims of sealing a place at the Men's Football Tournament of the 2020 Olympic Games."

Qualification for the 2020 AFC Under-23 Championship begins in March 2019, with the top three finishers going to the Tokyo Olympics.

(With inputs from OPTA and other Agencies)

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    Story first published: Monday, September 10, 2018, 13:10 [IST]
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