China coach Gao quits after Uzbek defeat
CHINA’S national football coach Gao Hongbo announced his resignation after a 2-0 defeat to Uzbekistan left the perennially underachieving side’s hopes of reaching Russia 2018 hanging by a thread.
The loss in Tashkent on Tuesday left Team Dragon bottom of their third stage qualifying group for the next World Cup, with only one point from four games. Only the top three of the six contenders will progress.
Despite being the world’s most populous country and second-larg- est economy, and money pouring into the domestic game after President Xi Jinping declared ambitions to host and one day win the World Cup, China remain minnows on the global football stage.
The team has only ever qualified for one World Cup and are currently ranked a lowly 78th in the world by FIFA.
“I will leave the national team because of poor health,” Gao told a press conference after the Uzbekistan match, the official Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.
But he acknowledged discussing his future with Chinese Football Association bosses before the game, according to the Asian Football Confederation website.
“We agreed if we couldn’t reach a positive result against Uzbekistan I would stand down from my post,” it quoted him as saying.
“As a result of this defeat, I bring an end to my time in charge of the China national team.”
Gao, a former striker for the national team, previously managed the side in 2009-11 and was reappointed in February, after Frenchman Alain Perrin was sacked following embarrassing performances including a draw with Hong Kong.
Under Gao, China squeaked into the third round of World Cup qualifying, but they endured a humiliating loss at home to wartorn Syria last week and their sole point so far came from a 0-0 draw with Iran.
“I hope the China national team will be better in the future and we will meet in football again,” Gao said. – AFP