The new coach of China's struggling national football team, Gao Hongbo, is confident of reviving his country's international fortunes after finally being confirmed in the post by the China Football Association (CFA).
|China failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup [GALLO/GETTY]
China languish in 100th position in the Fifa world rankings and have already dropped out of the running for a place in next year's World Cup.
The 43-year-old former international striker, who beat three other candidates in a three-day closed camp grilling by CFA officials in February, was nevertheless upbeat about the task that lay ahead of him.
"It is the most important mission and challenge in my life, coaching the national team of the motherland is the highest honour for a football coach," he told Chinese newspaper Beijing Youth Daily.
"If I were not confident that I could revive Chinese football I would not have applied for this job ... I will take up the historical task of football revival in China together with my team."
Gao's first match in charge will be against Germany in Shanghai on May 29, followed by further friendlies against Asian powerhouses Saudi Arabia and Iran in early June.
"The three friendlies are certainly the most practical goal for us, but only a short-term goal," he told the paper.
"If the new national team want to be supported by the people, we have to display positive changes in the matches to show that we are going in the right direction."
Gao led Changchun to the Chinese league title in 2007 before being sacked last July after questioning the commitment of some of his players.
He replaces caretaker coach Yin Tiesheng, who had taken control of the team from Serbian Vladimir Petrovic after the World Cup qualifying campaign ended in failure last June.
|Vladimir Petrovic Pizon was quickly replaced following the failure to qualify [GALLO/GETTY]
Fifa President Sepp Blatter criticised China last year for hiring and firing foreign coaches too quickly and all the contenders this time around were Chinese.
National team coaches have come in for a fair amount of flak from fans and media in recent years as performances on the international stage continue to slide.
"I don't want to talk about magnificent goals but I believe nothing is too difficult as long as we do everything well together," he said.
After the friendlies, Gao's immediate task will be qualification for the 2011 Asian Cup but ultimately his ambition is to get China to the World Cup finals for a second time.
"I hope I can lead the Chinese team to the Brazil World Cup in 2014, that's the dream for all Chinese coaches," he added in the Beijing News.