Serbian Jankovic named new head coach of Team China
Published: Feb 24, 2023 08:37 PM
Aleksandar Jankovic  Photo: VCG

Aleksandar Jankovic Photo: VCG

Serbia's Aleksandar Jankovic, 50, has been named the new head coach of the Chinese men's national football team, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) announced Friday.

"To prepare for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup and 2026 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers, the CFA decided, after the assessment of experts, to hire Jankovic as the new head coach of China's men's national team," read a CFA statement.

The Serbian was appointed to lead China's under-19 B team in September 2018. In October 2020, after renewing his contract, Jankovic was tasked to lead the Chinese U-21 team to prepare for the Hangzhou Asian Games, which will be held later in 2023 after being postponed for one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was named the interim head coach of Team China for the 2022 EAFF E-1 Football Championship held in Japan, after Li stepped down in December 2021.

A former assistant coach for the Serbia U-21 team, he has also coached Serbia's Red Star Belgrade and Belgium's Standard Liege, among other clubs.

Jankovic's first game in charge of Team China will be a friendly match against New Zealand on March 23 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Fans are hoping the Serbian will be able to bring on-pitch success as Chinese football faces an anti-graft storm after former China coach Li Tie and former CFA president Chen Xuyuan, as well as a series of other important football figures, are under investigation on suspicion of serious violations of law and discipline.

"Jankovic is a lot better than the other options," one fan wrote on sports platform

But not everyone is optimistic about his appointment, as football commentator Yan Qiang calls it "an expedient measure."

"It's really unnecessary to ask for any more at this time," Yan wrote on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo.