XIANGHE, Hebei Province, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- China's vice sports minister and ex-table tennis player Cai Zhenhua was elected president of the Chinese Football Association (CFA) here on Tuesday.
In the first reshuffle of the CFA executive board in a decade, Cai was elected unopposed to replace the 75-year-old Yuan Weimin, who had remained as CFA president since 1992.
Cai, 53, will be faced with the daunting task of revitalizing the sport in the world's most populous country.
"There are so many heavy tasks and time is limited. I just want to say three words: determination, confidence and perseverance," said the former table tennis world champion and national team coach.
"What I am saying is not a slogan. By determination I mean I will put in real efforts to set goals and to bring Chinese soccer back to its right track.
"The stern reality of Chinese soccer forces us to make complete changes. I am burdened with a colosal task," Cai added.
China's men's soccer team only qualifed for one World Cup in 2002, when they lost all three group matches without scoring a goal. The team is now struggling in the 92nd in FIFA world rankings.
The Chinese women's side, once hailed as the "Steel Roses", has fallen from their heights in the late 1990s - 1996 Olympics runners-up and 1999 World Cup silver medalists - to the bottom in 2004 Athens Olympics, losing 8-0 to Germany in the group phase.
Both the teams failed to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.
Cai won four world championships titles in his playing days and achieved greater success as a coach. He brought the Chinese men's table tennis team back to the top after he took over in 1991, and laid the foundation for China's dominance in world championships and Olympic Games in the past two decades.
Cai was promoted to the vice presient of the State General Administration of Sports in 2007.