Former head coach Gao Hongbo was named for his second stint to manage the Chinese national soccer team, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) announced on Wednesday.
“The selection for China national team coach wraps up on January 29. CFA decides to name Gao Hongbo as the head coach of Chinese team, steering the national squad for next two World Cup qualifiers vs Maldives on March 24 and Qatar on March 29 respectively,” CFA said in a statement.
It’s not mentioned how long Gao’s tenure will be in the statement, but CFA added “the coach selection work will continue based on more cautious and professional consideration,” leaving Gao more like to be a caretaker coach.
Brazilian soccer great Zico and former Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa were among the group of candidates running for the post.
Gao was the first and only domestic coach who made public his intention to run for the job after Frenchman Alain Perrin was sacked by CFA on Jan. 8
The CFA said in a statement on Jan. 8 that the Frenchman was departing following discussions between both sides and the search for a replacement would begin immediately.
Perrin’s sacking was widely believed a result of a disappointing run of results that left China’s World Cup qualifying campaign hanging by a thread.
China currently sits in third place in its World Cup qualifying group behind Qatar and Hong Kong, China. China’s next match is March 24 at home against the Maldives, which it defeated 3-0 in September.
“It’s a difficult time for Chinese football, and I can feel the duty on my shoulder,” Gao told Xinhua on Jan. 11.
“With a lot of research on the Chinese Super League and Asian football, I think I can help the team. I hope to make a contribution to the development of Chinese football,” he added.
Gao, 50, was the head coach of the Chinese national team between 2009 and 2011. Under his reign, China won 23, drew 11 and lost four games. But he was fired less than one month before the 2014 World Cup qualifiers in 2011.
Gao’s successor Jose Antonio Camacho failed to work miracles in China. Under the Spaniard, China had a 7-2-11 record.
Perrin was hired in February 2015 after a lengthy search to replace Camacho, who was sacked following a humiliating 5-1 loss to minnow Thailand.