Monday, 16 September 2019 | 12:10 WIB

China Calls Up Nico Yennaris to National Football Team

Brentford player Nico Yennaris. (bbc)

BEIJING, NETRALNEWS.COM – The Chinese National Football Team finally has naturalized foreign player. He is a former Arsenal and Brentford midfielder Nico Yennaris. Nico became the first foreign player to be called to the national team after he was included in Marcello Lippi's team for the upcoming friendly matches against the Philippines and Tajikistan.

Quoted from the BBC, Yennaris, known as Li Ke in China, was born and raised in England. He qualified to play for China due to her mother who was born there.

The 26-year-old signed a contract for Chinese Super League club Beijing Guoan in January and was given Chinese citizenship, making him eligible to be chosen by Lippi when the Italian coach tried to increase the wealth of the struggling national team in the country.

The entry of the Yennaris marked a significant change in policy by the Chinese Football Association, which had previously refused calls to include naturalized players into the national team composition even though it was a common practice in many other countries.

Yennaris is one of a number of foreign-born Chinese players who have joined Chinese Super League clubs since the turn of the year as a sign that the atmosphere has changed.

The problem is also believed to be a factor in Lippi's decision to re-lead the team earlier this month, because the coach who had been successful at the World Cup resigned when his contract ended after China was eliminated in the Asian Cup quarter-finals in January.

Lippi's men in the continental championship have the oldest average age of 24 countries competing and are in desperate need of rejuvenation ahead of China's efforts to secure a place at the World Cup in Qatar in 2022.