Li Ke earns praise from Marcello Lippi as China ready for Philippines friendly
The first match of Marcello Lippi's return for a second stint in charge of China's national team comes when they take on the Philippines in a friendly on June 7.
The 71-year-old, who led China to the Asian Cup last eight in January, had his side win 3-0 in the group stage over the Philippines. The Italian boss returns to the PRC dugout after four months away and hopes to lead them to their first World Cup since 2002.
Espanyol forward Wu Lei scored in China's last meeting with the Philippines but he will miss out this time in Guangzhou because of a shoulder injury. Beijing Guoan's Li Ke, also known as Nico Yennaris, expects to make his debut as the first naturalized player of the Chinese national team.
As for the visiting side, there's a change in the team with Scott Cooper, a former Leicester youth coach, who took charge after Sven Goran Erikson left following their Asian Cup group stage exit. But all eyes are on the return of the 2006 World Cup winning boss.
"I think we're all aiming for the same thing, to build a brand new national team for the upcoming challenges. We have enhanced our training sessions to help the new players adjust to the rhythm of the tight schedule. We hope to qualify for the 2022 Qatar World Cup," Coach Lippi said at the press conference.
He also praised Li Ke, as he will be China's new force. "Li Ke will play in the midfield, which is perfect for him as his style is aggressive, and that is what we need in the national team."