Former Dutch midfielder Arie Haan has signed a contract to become the Chinese team's fourth foreign coach, the China Football Association (CFA) announced at a news conference Sunday in Beijing.
After five months of searching for a new coach, CFA finally chose the 54-year-old Dutchman out of 22 candidates before the two sides signed a formal contract Saturday night.
"Haan was expected to coach the Chinese team until next World Cup qualification rounds," said Nan Yong, vice president of CFA. "His contract will be extended if he leads the team into the World Cup finals."
But the four-year contract asks more than a World Cup berth.
"We hope that he can do well at the 2004 Asian Cup and bring the team to a higher level," added Nan, also a technical director for Chinese teams at lower levels.
Haan, who had never been a national coach, expressed his confidence for his new job.
"I have full confidence, otherwise I wouldn't have come to such a big country," said the former Ajax player. "I believe that we can have a good result at the 2004 Asian Cup and qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany."
"It is true that I have never coached a national team, but my playing career lasted 17 years," Haan said.
"What's more, I cooperated with many national coaches while I taught at clubs," added Haan.
Haan, winning 35 caps, played for the Netherlands in the finals of 1974 and 1978 World Cups. He also played seven European Cup finals with Ajax, Anderlecht and Standard Liege.
He was chosen as coach by African champions Al Ahlihas in June and then as sports director at regional club Stuttgarter Kickers in August.
Haan's predecessors Klaus Schlappner of Germany and Bobby Houghton of England both left the Chinese team in disgrace, while Bora Milutinovic of Yugoslavia inked his name in Chinese soccer history by leading the most populous nation to its first World Cup finals.
(People's Daily December 23, 2002)