Hosts China PR have removed Serbian Ratomir Dujkovic as coach of their Olympic team just three weeks before the start of the Beijing games.

He has been replaced by Yin Tiesheng, the former coach of Chinese Super League team Qingdao Zhongneng.

"Given the gradually widening rift between Dujkovic and the Chinese side, the news is hardly earth-shattering," state media portal Sina.com reported. "But to remove the head coach before a huge competition could be a first in Chinese football history."

The report said Dujkovic would officially remain head coach of the squad for the time being but would occupy a consulting role. The news came just after Dujkovic announced his final squad for the Games, with Charlton star Zheng Zhi and Manchester United's Dong Fangzhou spearheading China's quest for a medal in the Men's Olympic Football Tournament.

Chinese football has had a tough time of late, with China's national team last month crashing out of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ under coach Vladimir Petrovic, another Serb. Yin, 51, also trained the Chinese u-20 male football team in 2004 and 2005.

However, no change was announced to the Olympic squad. It included four players each from Super League sides Shanghai Shenhua and Shandong Luneng, dominating the squad. Shenhua's Qiu Shengjiong, Li Weifeng, Shen Longyuan and Gao Lin are on board while the Shandong complement includes Zhou Haibin, Yuan Weiwei, Cui Peng and Han Peng.

Playmaker Zheng, who has recovered from a herniated disk in his lower back that threatened his participation, captains the side. He will be flanked by Li and Han who form the trio of overaged players.

"The Olympics could affect my profession in England, but it is not a sacrifice," said Zheng, who is also captain of the senior team. "As a Chinese, to play for the country whenever it needs me is always my responsibility. My injury is an old one and I am satisfied with my recovery."

Dujkovic has said he is aiming for a top four finish, but Zheng said the initial goal was simply to reach the knockout stage. "Beijing is the host city of the Olympic Games. I and my team-mates will not give up trying," said Zheng. China are grouped with Brazil, Belgium and New Zealand.

China squad: Qiu Shengjiong, Li Weifeng, Shen Longyuan, Gao Lin, Zhang Lu, Feng Xiaoting, Zhu Ting, Wan Houliang, Tan Wangsong, Lu Jianjun, Zheng Zhi, Zhou Haibin, Yuan Weiwei, Cui Peng, Han Peng, Jiang Ning, Chen Tao, Dong Fangzhuo