Soccer-Hao named Shandong coach as Li steps down

HONG KONG, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Chinese Super League side Shandong Luneng have appointed former China women’s national team head coach Hao Wei to replace Li Xiaopeng at the helm, the club announced on Monday.

Shandong, home to ex-Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini and former Southampton striker Graziano Pelle, made the switch less than two weeks before they face Beijing Guoan in the opening round of the CSL’s championship playoffs.

Li stood down from the role he has held since December 2017, when he replaced Felix Magath, due to health reasons having led the club to a third-place finish in the CSL in 2018 and runners-up in the Chinese FA Cup in 2018 and 2019.

Hao was Li’s assistant at Shandong, having previously taken China to the Women’s World Cup quarter-finals in 2015 where they lost to eventual champions the United States.

Li led Shandong to a third-place finish in Group A of the CSL’s revamped campaign to set up a meeting with Beijing in the championship playoffs. The teams meet in the first leg on Oct. 17, with the return to be played five days later. (Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Ken Ferris)