Marcello Lippi to stay on as China coach until after 2019 Asian Cup
Marcello Lippi will remain as China coach even if he is unable to overcome the odds and steer the country to their first World Cup since 2002.
The Chinese Football Association (CFA) confirmed on its website on Thursday morning that Lippi would remain in his role until the end of the 2019 Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates, when the former Italy coach's contract expires.
"We will strictly carry out our contract with Lippi which expires after the 2019 Asian Cup," the CFA said in a statement on their official website. "We won't interfere with his preparation and the lineup. In the meantime, we will support his group as always. We hope to support and trust each other."
Lippi took over as coach from Gao Hongbo in October last year and has kept China's slim hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia alive.
China recorded only their second ever win over South Korea in March but they still face a struggle in qualifying for the World Cup.
Lippi's team face Uzbekistan and Qatar in their final two matches and must win both and hope results go their way to qualify for the playoff rounds for Russia.
China have only appeared at the World Cup once before, qualifying for the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea under Serbian coach Bora Milutinovic.
They have already secured their spot at the Asian Cup in January 2019, where they will be one of 24 teams in a newly expanded competition.
"Since Oct. 22 last year, Lippi and his coaching staff have helped China to get one win, two draws and one defeat in the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup," the CFA said. "The team has changed a lot tactically and mentally. We hereby take this opportunity to thank them all."
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch