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November 15, 2019

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Lippi resigns after defeat to Syria

China’s national team head coach Marcello Lippi announced his resignation last night, following a 1-2 defeat to Syria in a 2022 World Cup qualifier in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The Chinese Football Association later said on its official Weibo account that it had accepted his resignation.

China slipped five points behind Syria in Group A following the loss.

Osama Omari opened the scoring for Syria, playing as host, after 19 minutes, and Wu Lei equalized on the half hour. A Zhang Linpeng own goal with 14 minutes remaining condemned China to its first defeat.

Having seen an unexpected 0-0 draw with the Philippines on October 15, China is in danger of missing the final round of the Asian Zone qualifying. Only the top team from the eight groups and the four best second-place finishers will advance.

Speaking after the match, Lippi, the 2006 World Cup winner, told a press conference: “I don’t want to talk about the game. A team should make all effort on the pitch, and should fully carry out the tactics deployed by the coach.

“If the players are afraid on the pitch, with no fighting spirit, no desire, no courage, and cannot show what they performed during my training, then I, the coach, is responsible (for it).

“We defeated weak teams like Guam and Maldives. But teams that rank higher are more coordinated and better than us.

“My annual salary is very high. I am responsible for this loss. Now, I declare that I officially resign.”

Media reports claim that Lippi’s annual salary is 20 million euros (US$22.04 million).

Lippi was re-appointed head coach in late May this year. The 71-year-old first took charge of China in 2016, before leaving the role in January this year when his contract expired after the Asian Cup. His protege Fabio Cannavaro took over the post in conjunction with coaching Guangzhou Evergrande, but left the national team in April to focus solely on his club duties.

Elsewhere, Japan maintained its perfect record by beating Kyrgyzstan 2-0 while Iran lost a second straight match.

Iran, trying to reach a third consecutive World Cup, fell to Iraq 1-2 in Amman, Jordan.

Japan, with four wins out of four, moved six points clear of second-placed Kyrgyzstan at the top of Group F.

Iran slipped four points behind Iraq halfway through the group stage after substitute Alaa Abbas scored the winner in injury time.

Iraq moved to the top of Group C, two points of clear of Bahrain, which drew with China’s Hong Kong 0-0.

South Korea stayed first in Group H though it dropped points after drawing with Lebanon 0-0 in Beirut.


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