Shanghai (AFP) – Luiz Felipe Scolari admitted he was unsure about his future at Guangzhou Evergrande despite guiding the Asian giants to their sixth consecutive Chinese Super League title.
The well-heeled southern team maintained their stranglehold on Chinese football when they went seven points clear with two games to go after Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Yanbian Funde.
But speculation is rife over Scolari after Evergrande revealed they had lined up Italy’s Marcello Lippi for a return to the club, before allowing him to sign with China’s struggling national team over the weekend.
Scolari, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002, said he hoped to see out his contract, which has another year to run.
“I hope Lippi can bring the national team success and if asked I will be happy to help with that,” Scolari told Chinese media at Guangzhou’s Tianhe stadium.
“But as far my situation is concerned, I want to see out my contract with the club. But right now there has not been any real progress as regards my future here.”
Evergrande have been ruthless in the past and they ousted Lee Jang-Soo in favour of Lippi in mid-2012 after the Korean coach had taken them to promotion and the Chinese Super League title in consecutive seasons.
The club, jointly owned by a real estate company and internet behemoth Alibaba, also moved swiftly to replace Lippi’s successor, Fabio Cannavaro, with Scolari last year.
Scolari emulated Lippi by winning the AFC Champions League in 2015, but his stock plummeted when their title defence ended at the group stage in this year’s competition.
Success at regional level is considered paramount for Chinese clubs, partly because winning the Champions League earns a shot at football’s big guns at the Club World Cup.
World Cup-winner Lippi became a hero when he won China’s first Champions League title with Evergrande in 2013, but he faces an uphill battle with the national team.
China have hit trouble in qualifying and look unlikely to reach the next World Cup, slowing President Xi Jinping’s push to turn the country into a football powerhouse.
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