Guangzhou Evergrande reinstall Fabio Cannavaro as head coach
Fabio Cannavaro has been unveiled as the new head coach of seven-time Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou Evergrande.
The Italian returns to the club almost two-and-a-half years after he was sacked and replaced by Luiz Felipe Scolari having steered Tianjin Quanjian to third place in this season's Chinese Super League standings.
"I'm very honoured and happy to be back here," Cannavaro said on Thursday. "Before leaving here last time I had said that I would come back one day.
"Fortunately I have gathered some very good experiences in the Chinese leagues since then and I am so happy to be back.
"Evergrande's plan for the upcoming years excites me very much and strongly motivates me to work with club. We will need to bring as many Chinese talents out as possible while keeping winning as always."
Cannavaro replaces Scolari after the Brazilian chose not to sign a new contract with the club after winning three Chinese Super League titles and the AFC Champions League in his time in southern China.
Guangzhou are China's most successful club having won the AFC Champions League in 2013 and 2015 as well as the last seven straight Chinese Super League titles. They also won the Chinese FA Cup in 2012 and 2016.
Cannavaro was fired in June 2015 after a disappointing start to his time at the club as Marcello Lippi's successor and the 2006 World Cup-winning defender moved to Saudi Arabia, where he took over as head coach of Al Nassr.
By mid-2016 he had replaced Wanderley Luxemburgo as head coach of Tianjin Quanjian and took the club to the title in China League One and promotion to the Chinese Super League.
Tianjin finished third in the 2017 Chinese Super League campaign, finishing the season with a 2-1 win over Guangzhou at Tianhe Stadium that secured a place in the qualifying rounds of the AFC Champions League for the club before announcing his departure from the club two days later.
Evergrande owner Xu Jiayin has set Cannavaro the target of maintaining the club's domestic dominance and reestablishing Guangzhou as the top team in Asia.
"Next year the club is targeting an eighth CSL title and a third trophy from the AFC Champions League," he said. "The former means we need to win the domestic league. The latter means we need to add one more ACL trophy to our previous two."
Cannavaro knows the task to retain the domestic crown will be difficult with the increasing strength in depth within the Chinese Super League.
"There are five or six teams in the CSL capable of winning the league title," he said. "The competition is intense now.
"What we expect is that next year the CSL will be extremely difficult. But we won't get cold feet. We can't ignore the fact that we are a team that has won the title seven times in a row. We are strong. Now we have to increase our desire of winning more."
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch