China Loses Crucial World Cup Qualifier to Syria and Marcello Lippi Resigns

Marcello Lippi (Source: zhibo8.cc)

In a disastrous day for Chinese football, the national team lost 2-1 to Syria in Dubai in a crucial qualifying match in Group A for World Cup 2022. Chinese national team manager and World Cup champion with Italy in 2006, Marcello Lippi, resigned from his post after the match.

China conceded an early goal as Osama Omari scored a brilliant header in the 19th minute to put Syria ahead. China equalized just 10 minutes later as Chinese talisman and RCD Espanyol striker Wu Lei volleyed in a cross from Wu Xi, who has been in outstanding form for Jiangsu Suning in the CSL. The match was evenly balanced going into the second half, until Guangzhou Evergrande defender Zhang Linpeng, who was playing in central defense instead of his favored right back position, clumsy directed a benign Syrian cross into his own net in the 76th minute. China could not muster an equalizer and the match ended 2-1.

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Following China’s previous disappointing 0-0 draw with the Philippines, they now sit 5 points back of Syria who top the group, and level on points with the Philippines.

China will now face a battle to advance to the next round of qualifying, as they will need to beat Syria and hope the Syrians drop points elsewhere to have any hope of topping the group. All eight group winners, and the four best second place teams will advance to the third round of qualifying. China will play each of the other teams in the group once more.

Coach Marcello Lippi resigned in an abrupt post-match press conference saying, ‘They played better than us and deserved this victory. I take full responsibility for this loss and hereby announce my official resignation.’ Lippi continued, “’For any team, players should give their all once they are on the pitch and execute what the head coach had planned for. If they are afraid and lacking motivation, will and courage and failing to execute what we had trained for, I will take responsibility for that as head coach.’

It is currently unknown who will replace Lippi in the long term, but the Chinese national team under the Italian was woefully underperforming and failing to implement any recognizable playing style. Some have questioned his team selection, as Lippi left out the likes of Beijing Guoan midfielder Li Ke (Nico Yennaris) and highly rated Guangzhou Evergrande winger Wei Shihao from the starting eleven.