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.