Milan - China coach Marcello Lippi says that he is finally starting to see growth as the Asian giants open their bid to reach the FIFA World Cup for just the second time later this month.
The 71-year-old Italian World Cup winner returned as coach of China in May just four months after leaving.
"We're growing," Lippi said in an interview with Italian sports daily Gazzetta Dello Sport on Thursday.
"When I arrived at Evergrande I told them you are the strongest, you don't need a world champion coach to win another championship," said Lippi of his previous coaching spelling with Chinese giants Guangzhou Evergrande.
"But to become an international club you need to be tight, compact, aggressive, fast, you need to play intensely and even without ball.
"And that is also what I have asked the national side and it seems to me that they are now making us see different things."
Former Juventus, Inter Milan and Napoli boss Lippi has said he will quit for a second time if he fails to guide ambitious China to the 2022 World Cup.
The long road to Qatar starts this month.
China will open against the Maldives in Group A on September 10 before playing both Guam and the Philippines in early October and Syria on November 14.
China's only previous World Cup appearance came in 2002, when they exited without a point or scoring a goal.