Changchun Yatai have this week announced Samvel Babayan as their new manager ahead of the 2020 season.
The announcement of the 48-year-old Uzbek means that Svetozar Sapuric’s third spell with the club comes to an end after just half a season, with a phenomenal beginning ultimately falling short in the hunt for promotion.
Babayan arrives in Changchun with the goal of getting the team out of the second tier and back into the Super League at the second time of trying.
The 48-year-old has spent the majority of his career coaching in his homeland, winning the Uzbekistan Super League in 2014 with Pakhtakor.
Babayan looked set to repeat his success in 2015 but left the club in order to take on the role of head coach of the Uzbekistan national team – a spell in which he worked with then-Changchun stalwart Anzur Ismailov over a two-year period.
After a spell as technical director of Spartaks Jurmala in Latvia, he returned to his homeland to take charge of his hometown team of Lokomotiv Tashkent.
Babayan leaves Lokomotiv after guiding the team to a second-place finish, showing his clear competency at that level, seeking a new challenge in China League One.
He has brought with him his own coaching staff, including assistant manager Grigoriy Kolosovskiy, whom he has worked with twice before with Pakhtakor and Lokomotiv, goalkeeping coach Anton Mayeranov and fitness coach Aleksandar Galic.
Babayan will need to work quickly to address the team’s need to bolster in a few areas, giving them the very best chance of competing for promotion in 2020.
His import signings will be of particular interest to fans, who will be hoping to see Richairo Zivkovic return alongside other, higher quality players that can take over from Maurides and Stefan Drazic, both of whom are expected to depart the club.
It will also be interesting to see if recent rumours regarding long-serving captain Zhang Xiaofei’s potential retirement come to fruition, with the 37-year-old named as a part of the club’s coaching set-up recently.
The need for big-name signings and potentially a new captain that can lead Changchun Yatai forward will be some hefty early targets for Babayan and only time will tell whether or not he is the right man for the job.