China coach Gao quits af­ter Uzbek de­feat

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

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

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