Newly-appointed Chinese men's football team head coach Aleksandar Jankovic said here on Wednesday that his target was to lead the squad in securing a spot for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
"Receiving this opportunity to coach the national team of China is a big reward, and I am extremely motivated," the 50-year-old Serbian noted at his inaugural press conference as the China senior team head coach. "I know that every long journey starts with a small step; as a head coach, I must have a clear picture of the big target--the general goal is for the 2026 World Cup, and the Chinese team must play."
The 2026 World Cup will be the first edition of the 48-team tournament, enabling at least eight Asian teams to enter the world football gala. " [No matter how many teams can go to the world cup], the target is the same. We have a lot of things to do before [we reach the goal]; we have no time to waste," he added.
Jankovic also admitted that every small step matters. "I fully agree that the big goal is determined by what we do every day. I make no difference when preparing big games and friendly games. We have to start implementing all the details from our first training tomorrow."
The coach, who spent four and a half years in China guiding the national youth team, said he had a clear picture of the current situation of Chinese football. "Over the last 30 months, I spent 28 months watching games in China and observing players not only from the Chinese Super League but from China League One and League two as well. I know all levels of Chinese players well."
"Chinese players and Chinese people are intelligent and learn fast, which is something that I have never seen my life elsewhere. However, if you are not fit, maybe you can win one game, but you can never win a competition."
"Our players need to improve their physical conditions, intensity and aggressivity. Otherwise we will always stay at home when the big competition comes. It's a challenge for me as a coach if we want to match up with those good teams in the world," he added.
"My requirements for all the players are the same. We will set the standard in terms of motivation, determination and hard work of the players. I certainly can't tell you who will play in the team now, but I can tell you how we will play," Jankovic said.
"The players must respect the jersey they wear. I want players who are generous, motivated and willing to sacrifice and run for your teammates. This is nothing to do with age, the door is open for everyone." he noted.