The Chinese Football Association (CFA) has appointed 42-year-old Li Tie as the head coach of the country's national team on a permanent basis.
"The CFA will fully support Li Tie and his coaching team. We believe our national team will try their best in every game under the new head coach," read a CFA statement, which added that Li would lead his first training camp on January 5 in Guangzhou.
CFA officials were said to have been shaken by Marcello Lippi's shock resignation after China lost 2-1 to Syria in a World Cup qualifier last November, and decided to appoint a local coach who knows the team well.
A panel of CFA experts held interviews with Li Tie, Li Xiaopeng and Wang Baoshan last week, and ultimately decided that former Everton midfielder Li Tie would fill Lippi's boots.
"He has proved himself a good coach both in the Chinese Super League and [as temporary national team coach] in the EAFF E-1 Football Championship," CFA secretary general Liu Yi told Xinhua.
Li, who served as Lippi's assistant for both Guangzhou Evergrande and the Chinese national team, led newly-promoted Wuhan Zall to a sixth-place finish in the Chinese Super League (CSL) last season.
In December 2019, Li was appointed to temporarily lead the national team at the EAFF E-1 Football Championship, where he and his young players eventually finished third.
"We believe that Li can bring about the change we want, as he admires high-pressing and a compact tactical style," Liu said. "He only had very limited time to prepare for the EAFF E-1 Football Championship, and the team improved in every game."
"More importantly, Li showed a strong desire to win during his interview, and he will definitely have a better understanding of the players' psychological changes than a foreign coach would."
"We don't have much time to prepare for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, so the new head coach needs to unite the team in short time," Liu said, adding that Li's experience in China's only World Cup appearance in 2002 could be helpful for the team.
However, Liu admitted that the selection process also exposed a shortage of domestic coaches working at the highest level, noting that this is a problem that "needs to be solved in the future."
"The CFA will build up a comprehensive support network including physical fitness and tactical coaches, sports scientists, medical rehabilitation teams, intelligence teams and psychological counselors. A large number of domestic and foreign experts will feature in Li's team," Liu added.
Li will face his first challenge in March when China take on the Maldives in their next 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier. China currently sits in second place in the five-team Group A with seven points from four games, five points behind group leaders Syria.
With only the top team from each of the eight groups and the four best second-place finishers advancing to the next stage, China is in danger of missing out on the final round of the Asian qualifiers.