China still has a chance, man­ager says

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

MAR­CELLO Lippi yes­ter­day said China’s hopes of reach­ing the next World Cup aren’t dead and buried yet af­ter they were un­lucky not to snatch all the points in his first game in charge.

China drew 0-0 with Qatar to re­main bot­tom of Group A but Lippi took heart from a bright per­for­mance when the hosts twice hit the wood­work in Kun­ming.

Lippi’s China now have five games to rise up the six-team ta­ble, where the top two win au­to­matic spots at Rus­sia 2018 and the third-placed side goes into a play­off se­ries.

“We knew be­fore this match that our hope of qual­i­fy­ing to the World Cup in Rus­sia was a very small one and it will be even more dif­fi­cult af­ter this game,” said Lippi, ac­cord­ing to the Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion web­site.

“Af­ter today’s match, I want to tell my players that they are not in­fe­rior to their op­po­nents. We were able to play good foot­ball and proved that we were bet­ter than Qatar.

“We will do our best as long as we have a the­o­ret­i­cal chance of qual­i­fy­ing. We are on the right track and that is what mat­ters. If we keep per­form­ing like this, the hope is not dead yet.”

‘Af­ter today’s match, I want to tell my players that they are not in­fe­rior to their op­po­nents.’

Mar­cello Lippi

China na­tional team man­ager

Lippi, who coached Italy to win the 2006 World Cup, is un­der no il­lu­sions as to the task fac­ing China, who have just two points from five games and are cur­rently seven adrift of third place.

When qual­i­fy­ing re­sumes in March, China host South Korea and they also have tough away as­sign­ments against Iran, Syria and Qatar among their fi­nal games.

Else­where South Korea beat Uzbek­istan 2-1 to move sec­ond in Group A, one be­hind lead­ers Iran, and Ja­pan also over­came Saudi Ara­bia to join their vis­i­tors on 10 points at the top of Group B.

But Asian cham­pi­ons Aus­tralia were left fum­ing af­ter they needed a sec­ond-half Mile Je­d­i­nak penalty to res­cue a point in their sur­prise 2-2 draw with Thai­land.

“What’s up for grabs is a po­si­tion at the World Cup and we have to be aware that ev­ery team is will­ing to die in or­der to achieve it and we have to be bet­ter than them with that as­pect,” said goal­keeper Mat Ryan, ac­cord­ing to the Syd­ney Morn­ing Herald.

“I think that’s the first step for us and then we have to go about im­ple­ment­ing our sys­tem of play and how we want to play and it’s not good enough, tonight.” –

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