Wei Di: Foreign China coach must be quality

BEIJING - If China decides to hire another foreign coach for its national football team it must stump up the cash for the best man available, the new head of the Chinese Football Association (CFA) said on Thursday.

Wei Di, who took over last month when his predecessor Nan Yong was sacked after being arrested on suspicion of match-fixing, said there were no plans to replace current coach Gao Hongbo.

Should that situation change, however, then the likes of former Netherlands, South Korea and current Russian coach Guus Hiddink should be the target, Wei said.

"My attitude toward foreign coaches is that we don't need the second or third tiers ones," he said in a live interview on Sina.com.

"If we decided to have a foreign coach, he must be a top one. It would not be cheap ... but I believe money is not a problem."

Wei invested heavily in top foreign coaches in his previous job as head of water sports at the General Administration of Sport.

He was rewarded at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a host of gold medals in sports like rowing and canoe-kayaking, in which China had previously enjoyed little success.

China's most recent foreign coach was Serbian Vladimir Petrovic, who was sacked after the team made an early exit from qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

There have been successes under foreign coaches, however, most notably China's only trip to the World Cup finals in 2002 under another Serbian, Bora Milutinovic.

Gao, who took over last April after being selected above two other Chinese candidates, has steered China to qualification for the Asian Cup but a string of poor performances have led to calls for him to be sacked.

Wei said earlier this week that reviving the fortunes of the national team would help restore the CFA's credibility after the match-fixing scandal.