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Beijing Guoan go top of Chinese Super League

Chinese Super League
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Beijing Guoan will target CSL title and Asian Champions League - Schmidt

Roger Schmidt coached Bayer Leverkusen for three years.

New Beijing Guoan coach Roger Schmidt has set his sights on returning the club to the Asian Champions League after officially taking over at the Chinese Super League side this week.

The German was named the club's new head coach three weeks ago following the sacking of Jose Gonzalez but only arrived in China this week with his new coaching team to take charge of the struggling former champions.

Beijing are in seventh place in the 16-team league, but the former Bayer Leverkusen coach is aiming to turn the club back into title challengers and to take them into the continental club championship.

"Beijing was a regular team in Asian Champions League, so in terms of targets we want to not only get back into the Asian Champions League but to also challenge for the CSL title," he said.

"I am very glad to be part of the Beijing Guoan club. I've been watching Chinese football from Europe and it is developing very fast. However, I never thought it would have anything to do with me.

"After lots of communication, I found this is a very special club, not only because it is the capital's club, but also because they have a long term vision. I also hope to be part of the evolution of Chinese football. So I really appreciate the trust from the senior management team. I will do my best to help the club."

Beijing have lost six times in the league this season and sit 18 points behind league leaders Guangzhou Evergrande and are 10 behind Hebei CFFC, who occupy third place, which brings with it the league's final slot in the Asian Champions League.

"I know at the moment we are in a very sensitive position," he said. "Changing the coach team during the season -- and the coaching team itself is also a very young one -- is a very big challenge. But I am fully confident that we can handle it.

"We will work very hard on and off the field as a whole team. If we work very hard, we can prove the progress to fans in our matches. I have great impression of the club and also of the logistics team.

"I also have high appreciation of the Beijing fans. I knew it when I was in Germany that the fans here are phenomenal, which will be very important for our performance."

Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch

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