Doha (AFP) – Marcello Lippi announced he was quitting as China coach after his team fell to a 2-1 defeat by Syria in 2022 World Cup qualifying on Thursday.
“My pay is very high, and I take all the blame. I am quitting as China coach,” the Italian was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency after Zhang Linpeng’s own goal in the 76th minute gave Syria victory in Dubai.
The Chinese Football Association did not say if it had accepted his offer to resign, but it was clear that he was feeling the heat after his side failed to impress at the Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum Stadium.
Syria are comfortably top of Group A with 12 points after their fourth successive victory while China are five points behind in second, only above the Philippines on goal difference.
Syria opened their account in the 19th minute when Mahmoud al-Mawas’ cross from the right was expertly headed past goalkeeper Yan Junling by a towering Osama Omari.
Wu Lei restored parity 10 minutes later when he met Wu Xi’s pass and slotted home with a fine finish.
Guangzhou Evergrande’s Zhang however spoiled the day for China when he turned a shot from Omar al-Somah past Yu and into his own net.
In Amman, Iraq shocked Iran 2-1 with substitute Ali Abbas netting the winner in second-half stoppage time on a day when four demonstrators were killed after being hit by tear gas canisters in Baghdad.
Mohanad Ali had put Iraq ahead in the 11th minute on for Ahmad Nourollahi to equalise in the 25th minute.
A tense battle followed but the sending off of Masoud Shojaei for a second booking in the 81st minute turned the match in Iraq’s favour as Abbas rose above the defence to head home in the second minute of added time.
Iraq now lead Group C with 10 points, followed by Bahrain on eight.
– Hong Kong fans boo Chinese anthem –
Earlier on Thursday, Hong Kong fans roundly jeered the entire Chinese national anthem as the territory prepared to take on Bahrain.
The match however ended in an anticlimax a goalless draw.
Meanwhile, Australia pipped Jordan 1-0 with Adam Taggart scoring the only goal of the match in the 13th minute in Amman.
It was Australia’s fourth consecutive win, taking their tally at the top of Group C to 12 points, with Kuwait and Jordan five adrift.
In Tashkent, captain Salman al-Faraj scored a brace as Saudi Arabia bounced back twice from a goal down to edge Uzbekistan 3-2 to go top of Group D with eight points from four matches.
Saudi Arabia went into the match in second place behind the Uzbeks and for long periods it looked like the status quo would be maintained.
But after Eldor Shomurodov struck in the 16th minute, taking advantage of a poor backpass by Yasir al-Shahrani to put Uzbekistan ahead, it took the Saudis only six minutes to draw level.
Rustamjon Ashurmatov fouled Feras al-Brikan in the box and al-Faraj blasted home from the penalty spot to restore parity.
Al-Shahrani gifted Uzbekistan another goal when he handled the ball and Otabek Shukurov made no mistake from the spot in the 56th minute.
However, the desperate Saudis threw everything into the remainder of the game and equalised again in the 85th minute when al-Faraj volleyed home after the Uzbek defence failed to tackle a cross from Salem al-Dawsari.
Al-Dawsari was in the thick of the action five minutes later, beating Uzbek goalie Eldorbek Suyunov with a lob after advancing past the defenders to give his side a crucial win.
Elsewhere, Lebanon drew 0-0 with South Korea, Aghanistan held India to a 1-1 draw, Japan saw off Kyrgyzstan 2-0 and Kuwait hammered Chinese Taipei 9-0.
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