Soccer-Zheng steps in to replace Cannavaro at struggling Guangzhou
Former Asian Player of the Year Zheng Zhi has been appointed acting head coach of eight-times champions Guangzhou FC ahead of the Chinese Super League's resumption on Sunday. Zheng, who was named the continent's best player in 2013, takes over from Fabio Cannavaro after the Italian left the club by mutual consent in September.
Zheng, who was named the continent's best player in 2013, takes over from Fabio Cannavaro after the Italian left the club by mutual consent in September. The 41-year-old Zheng will also remain part of Guangzhou's playing staff.
"It has been decided after consideration that Zheng Zhi will be the acting head coach and player of Guangzhou FC," the club said in a statement on Tuesday. "We hope that all the coaches, players and staff members of the club can overcome all difficulties, train hard and work hard to complete the season with a strong sense of honour, responsibility and team spirit."
The league is set to resume on Sunday after taking a four-month break to accommodate the Chinese national team's qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar. Zheng joined Guangzhou in 2010 after spells in Europe with Charlton Athletic and Celtic and has been central to the success of the Evergrande-backed side.
He captained the club to all eight of their domestic titles as well as to the Asian Champions League crown in 2013 and 2015. Zheng also won the Chinese FA Cup in 2012 and 2016. Guangzhou, however, are in a state of flux.
Property developer Evergrande, which has been struggling to meet repayments on over $300 billion in debt, is considering selling the club, while foreign players Paulinho, Anderson Talisca and Ricardo Goulart have all departed. Guangzhou are set to face Beijing Guoan in their first game back on Sunday.
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