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China names Frenchman, former Lyon boss Alain Perrin, as new national coach

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BEIJING, China - Former Lyon boss Alain Perrin is China's new coach.

The Chinese Football Association announced on Friday it chose the Frenchman to lead China's troubled side following a lengthy search.

"Improvements won't happen overnight, but I have faith the new coach will have a positive effect," association head Cai Zhenhua said at a news conference introducing Perrin.

Perrin arrived late Thursday at the national team's southern training base at Qingyuan, where the team is preparing to face Iraq in an Asian Cup qualifier in Dubai on Wednesday.

He succeeds Jose Antonio Camacho, who was sacked in June following a string of defeats, including a humiliating 5-1 loss to minnow Thailand.

Although football is wildly popular in China, the national squad is a perennial underperformer and has qualified for only one World Cup, in 2002. Ranked 88th in the world, sandwiched between Gabon and New Zealand, the team has long suffered from corruption, mismanagement by bureaucrats, and a weak youth system.

Cai said Perrin was chosen partly for his "willingness to listen to and accept different opinions and his emphasis on team spirit."

"I'm certain he will help the Chinese team make progress," Cai said.

The association, too, had its work cut out for it and would strive to shore up its ties with teams in China's professional league.

Perrin has previously coached at clubs such as Marseille, Portsmouth, Saint-Etienne and Lyon, which he led to its seventh consecutive Ligue 1 title in 2007.

The association said he would be on the bench for Wednesday's game to allow Fu Bo to finish his caretaker role.

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