Former Everton Player Li Tie Named as the Chinese National Team Head Coach Amid Difficult Challenges

Chinese Football Association named Li Tie as the new head coach for the Chinese Men’s National Team. Taking over the job from Marcello Lippi, Li is facing major challenges from the remaining games in the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup qualification tournament.

Born in Shenyang, China, the 42-year-old Li Tie has been a noticeable presence in Chinese football for the past two decades. The Shenyang native played for his hometown football club Liaoning FC for five years before heading to England in 2002. Li spent four years with the English Premier League team Everton as a defensive midfielder. Released by Everton in 2002, Li later joined Sheffield United before returning to China to finish his playing career. Retired from his hometown team Liaoning in 2011, Li started his coaching career one year later with the rising Chinese football powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande as an assistant coach.

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At the age of 18, Li Tie was first called up by the Chinese national team in 1995. Li spent twelve years with the Chinese national team and returned as an assistant coach in 2014. Li had spent substantial time with former World Cup Winner Marcello Lippi both in Guangzhou Evergrande and the Chinese national teams.

Li’s coaching record has been quite successful since departing from Guangzhou Evergrande. The footballer coached two Chinese League One teams, Hebei CFFC, and Wuhan Zall in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Both Hebei and Wuhan eventually made it into the Chinese Super League under Li’s leadership. Coaching Wuhan Zall FC in the past season, Li Tie led the team to take the 6th place in China’s top football tournament.

Li Tie served as an interim coach to the Chinese national team in December. Under Li’s leadership, China finished third in the 3-game East Asian Football Championship tournament. The Chinese national team lost to Japan (1-2) and South Korea (0-1), and concluded the tournament with a victory against the Chinese Hong Kong team with a 2-0 win.

Li Tie had some negative interactions with officials from the Chinese Football Association in 2016. He accused them of threatening to revoke Hebei CFFC’s permit to host home games over issues related to national team players on the Hebei CFFC team.

As the new head coach for the Chinese Men’s national team, Li is facing major challenges in the following games in the FIFA World Cup tournament. Former head coach Marcello Lippi resigned from his position after the Chinese national team lost a critical match against Syria 1-2 last November. The Chinese national team now sits in second place of Group A, with an 8-point deficit trailing behind the group leader Syria. China needs to finish either as the group winner or as one of the four best performing group runner-ups to qualify into the next stage of the qualification games.

Following the loss against Syria, China will play against the Maldives in March. With four games left in the tournament, China’s fate remains uncertain in its fifth quest to enter the FIFA World Cup Finals since 2002.

The Chinese Men’s team qualified to the World Cup Finals only once in 2002. Li Tie, one of the players in the 2002 World Cup team, will now lead the Chinese national team on another attempt to return to the final games.