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Fabio Cannavaro back at China’s Guangzhou Evergrande

November 4, 2019 GMT

BEIJING (AP) — Fabio Cannavaro has returned as coach of Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande after accepting criticism from club management over his handling of the team.

The 2006 World Cup champion had been ordered to corporate headquarters last week to attend an “enterprise culture studies class,” throwing his future at the club into question.

However, a notice on the team website said the former Italy captain had submitted a report Sunday “summarizing and reflecting on” the 2019 season and returned to his position at the club. It said Xu Jiayin, the chairman of heavily indebted property developer Evergrande, accepted the report while criticizing Cannavaro for not being strict enough with his players.

“Xu Jiayin hopes Cannavaro takes on board the company philosophy of ‘do it best or don’t do it at all,’ study and work hard, boost the level of the coaching staff, enforce strict management, pass out rewards and punishments and raise the players’ “combat capabilities,” the notice said.

Despite recent disappointing results, Evergrande, a property developer based in the southern Chinese city also known as Canton, sits atop the Chinese Super League standings by a single point. The team’s next game is against Shanghai side SIPG on Nov. 22.

China has relied heavily on foreign coaches and players to raise the level of its football, something president and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping has made a national priority.

Cannavaro briefly did double-duty as coach of the perennially underperforming Chinese men’s national team before quitting earlier this year after only two games — losses against Uzbekistan and Thailand — saying he wanted to focus on his job at Guangzhou.

Following his playing career as a Ballon d’Or-winning defender, the 46-year-old Cannavaro coached in the Middle East and China, including a first stint with Guangzhou before returning to the club in 2017.

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