Petrovic handed China job
© AFP

China have appointed former Yugoslavia international Vladimir Petrovic as their national coach for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers.

The Serbian's appointment came on the refcommendation of compatriot and former Red Star Belgrade team mate Ratomir Dujkovic, who was made coach of China's Olympic team last year.

The CFA and the former Red Star Belgrade player signed a one-year contract which ends in September 2008. By signing the deal the Serbian became the fifth foreigner in charge of the Chinese national team. Famous predecessors include his compatriot Bora Milutinovic and Dutchman Arie Haan.

Having guided Dalian Shide to league and cup success back in 2005, Petrovic also set a record as the only foreign coach to have coached a club side in China before taking over the national team.

The Serbian is responsible for steering China through the qualifiers for South Africa 2010 and will also lead the team at a regional tournament involving Japan, Korea DPR and Korea Republic.

The Serbian alliance
Petrovic will work as the team's executive coach alongside his countryman, former Ghana boss Ratomir Dujkovic, who was appointed the general coach of both the junior and senior teams having enjoyed success with the Olympic side over the past 12 months.

With the preliminary qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ just around the corner, Petrovic has been given the hard job to lead China through to their second qualification for the world's showpiece event.

His appointment has come in the wake of China's disappointing 2007 AFC Asian Cup campaign in July, where the East Asians crashed out after group stage by finishing behind Iran and Uzbekistan, who advanced at their expense with an unlikely 3-0 victory in the final match.

The results, the country's worst since 1980, saw the stepping down of Zhu Guanghu, who replaced Haan after the team missed out on a place at Germany 2006 under the tutelage of the Dutchman.

Zhu's failure in the recent Asian Cup, coupled with Dujkovic's success, had China's Football Association (CFA) turning back to a 'foreign policy' to revive the nation's hopes as they head into the preliminaries for South Africa 2010.

A race against time
Petrovic's first assignment comes on October 21 and 28, when China meet Myanmar in a two legged tie, which sees the winning side advancing to the next stage. The opening fixture had originally been scheduled for 8 October but with China still searching for a new coach, the two sides reached agreement of postponing the match by 13 days.

Despite the short lead-in time to the game, Petrovic is confident of success. "The qualifying results will be crucially important for China but to be honest, the time is really tight," he said. "I will spare no time in starting the selection process and we'll work against the clock to organise a strong squad," he said.

"It is a great job being the coach of China and it's without doubt that I will do my best. I believe the team will do well in qualifying for the World Cup through our joint efforts."