- Associated Press - Saturday, June 13, 2015

GUANGZHOU, China (AP) - Brazil’s former 2002 World Cup-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has taken over at the helm of Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou Evergrande as the latest in a parade of top managers attracted to the big-spending club.

The 65-year-old, who signed a two-and-a-half year contract, assumes the mantle from Italy’s former World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro and said he planned to maintain the team’s winning traditions while tweaking its game where necessary.

“We don’t have any pressure at all although the Italian coaches had achieved great success here earlier,” Scolari said at a presentation ceremony Friday in the southern city of Guangzhou, in China’s manufacturing heartland near Hong Kong.

Prior to Cannavaro, Guangzhou was coached by Marcello Lippi, who’d won the 2006 World Cup with Italy, and went on to win three Chinese league titles and one Asian Champions League crown in his 2-1/2 years in charge

Scolari, whose Asian football experience includes spells in Japan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, said he’d been in touch with Guangzhou going back to 2011.

“I knew China was spending a lot to improve its football now and Guangzhou is one of the pioneers. We came here because we recognized the football in Guangzhou,” he said.

Evergrande Group Chairman Xu Jiayin said Scolari’s hiring was part of a strategy to attract top coaches who’ve proven themselves in international competiton.

“We didn’t only want his name, we also wanted his ability, experience, management skills and the whole coaching team. And those had to be widely recognized by the world already. So it’s a risk-free choice for us to hire such a top-class world coach,” Xu said.

Scolari, who led Brazil to the World Cup final against Germany last year, resigned from Brazilian club Gremio in May after a poor start to the season. He brings with him his full Gremio coaching staff, including assistant coaches Murtosa and Ivo Wortmann, fitness coach Darlan Schneider and goalkeeping coach Carlos Pracidelli.

Among its foreign players, Guangzhou includes Brazilians Rene Junior, Alan, Elkeson and Ricardo Goulart.

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