Newly appointed Chinese national soccer team head coach Li Tie considers his new job as "the highest honor and a huge responsibility", while expressing his confidence in Team China for the coming 2022 World Cup Asian qualifiers at a media conference in Beijing on Sunday.
Li Tie (Photo: Xinhua)
"Being the national team coach is the highest honor for me, and it also means a huge responsibility," Li, who was named as successor to Italian Marcello Lippi by the Chinese Football Association on Friday, said.
"My coaching team and I will try our best to build the new Team China into a more competitive squad. I hope all the fans could continue to support us."
Shenyang-born Li was a member of the only Chinese squad to ever play at a World Cup, in 2002. After retiring as a player, he began his coaching career at Chinese Super League club Guangzhou Evergrande as an assistant to Lippi before taking head-coaching position at Hebei China Fortune and Wuhan Zall.
Li was famous for his ambition of becoming the national team coach, which he clearly expressed during an interview with Chinese media in 2011. The new job was a dream come true for the 42-year-old.
"I was very excited when I knew that I had the chance of competing for the position of Team China's head coach," Li said. "This has always been my dream. When I have the chance of serving my country, I won't consider other things too much. My contract with the CFA will last to Jun 9th 2020. Even if the CFA and I only have a one-day contract, I'll sign it without hesitation."
Despite Li's confident in his new job, Team China is struggling to enter the second round of Asian qualifiers of the next World Cup in Qatar. A 2-1 World Cup qualifying defeat to Syria in November prompted Lippi's sudden resignation and left China's qualification chances hanging by a thread.
With four more first round qualifiers to play, Team China is now eight points adrift of Group A leader Syria. The eight group winners and four best second-place finishers will enter a second phase of Asian qualifying. China is currently ranked as the sixth best runner-up team.
Speaking of the current situation faced by the team, Li said that the priority is to find players with strong hearts.
"The mentality is an old problem of the national team, I hope our players could have normal performance when they pay for the national squad," Li, who left for Guangzhou where the national squad reassembled for training directly after the media conference, said.
"Many players who have great performance in the league matches could not shoulder the huge pressure in the national team games. We will consider players' mentality during the player selection and we will work on helping them to cope with the pressure."