Hiddink sacked by China U23 for poor preparation

Guus Hiddink has been fired as head coach of China's under-23 team for "ineffective preparation of the team" and, according to reports, for making erratic team selections.

Hiddink, appointed in September 2018, will not be in charge of the team for January's Asian U23 Championships, a tournament to be held in Thailand in which the top three teams will win berths at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

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In an official statement, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) said the decision was taken due to the "ineffective preparation of the team and in order to improve team building and the management level."

According to reports in the Chinese media, that ineffective preparation reflected concerns that the 72-year-old had spent too much time in the Netherlands and not enough in China, had not watched enough domestic football and had made erratic selections for the team.

There were plenty of issues on display on Sept. 8 as China, who have played at just one Olympic football tournament back in 2008 as host of the Beijing Games, lost 2-0 to Vietnam in a game that was seen as the final straw for the former Real Madrid, Netherlands and Chelsea boss.

Ironically Vietnam were led that day by Park Hang-seo. The South Korean was a member of the Dutchman's coaching staff at the 2002 World Cup who earned the nickname of 'The Korean Hiddink' due to his exploits in charge of Vietnam

The CFA have set up a new management team with former women's national team coach Hao Wei taking on coaching duties, assisted by former men's national team boss Gao Hongbo.

Under Hiddink, China qualified for the Asian U23 Championships on goal difference above Malaysia in March.