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Dragan Stojkovic leaves Chinese club Guangzhou R&F

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(FILES) This file photo taken on October 19, 2019 shows Dragan Stojkovic, then head coach of Guangzhou R&F football club, waving before their Chinese Super League (CSL) football match with Shandong Luneng in Guangzhou in China’s southern Guangdong province. – Former Yugoslavia star Dragan Stojkovic left Chinese club Guangzhou R&F on January 3, 2020 and could be replaced as coach by former Barcelona player Giovanni van Bronckhorst. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT

Former Yugoslavia star Dragan Stojkovic left Chinese club Guangzhou R&F on Friday and could be replaced as coach by former Barcelona player Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

The 54-year-old Stojkovic was in charge for more than four years but Guangzhou finished 12th out of 16 teams in the Chinese Super League last season.

They conceded 72 goals in 30 matches, the worst defence in the league, and the club said in a statement on the Twitter-like Weibo that Stojkovic’s reign was over.

“This is a very difficult decision but in order to maintain the progress of the club and for the team to move forward, we believe now is the right time to turn the page,” the club said.

Guangzhou, who have the former Tottenham Hotspur player Mousa Dembele in midfield, were tight-lipped about Stojkovic’s replacement.

However, Chinese media said that it is likely to be the 44-year-old Van Bronckhorst, a former Dutch international who played as a defender and midfielder for Arsenal and Barcelona.

Van Bronckhorst was in charge at Feyenoord from May 2015 to June 2019, winning the Dutch league and twice the cup.

Stojkovic was appointed coach of Guangzhou in August 2015, taking up the position vacated less than a year earlier by ex-England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Stojkovic previously told AFP that Swansea City, then in the Premier League, had once approached him to be their manager.

“Maybe 10 days after my signing here, I received a call again from them (Swansea). I said, ‘It’s too late now, my friend, I’m in China’,” he said.

“I said that I cannot change my decision, I am here now.”


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