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Lippi praises China PR self-belief

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Abu Dhabi: After seeing China PR qualify for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 knockout phase, head coach Marcello Lippi believes his side’s growing confidence could prove crucial as they move deeper into the Continental showpiece.

China edged towards the Round of 16 with Friday’s 3-0 win over the Philippines, progress which was subsequently assured when Korea Republic beat Kyrgyz Republic 1-0 in Group C’s later game.

The victory was China’s second of the campaign following their Matchday One defeat of Kyrgyz Republic, a run of form that Lippi feels will only serve to inspire the 1984 and 2004 AFC Asian Cup runners-up.

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“My thoughts on the game are very positive, and the victory is, of course, very important,” declared the Italian who guided Italy to the FIFA World Cup title in 2006.

“However, the team’s performance is just as crucial. I hope we can continue in this manner because once you have confidence in yourself you know you can play against any opponent in Asia.

“The mentality of our team is also crucial, and it is currently very strong. We know this does not mean that we can win every match, but we [feel] we can play anyone and have a good chance of winning.”


Group C Matchday Two: Philippines vs China

Commenting on the match itself and the role two-goal hero Wu Lei played, Lippi said: “We were very good and showed plenty of quality. We were aggressive and created many chances to score. Going forward I hope we can keep playing as we did today. I really want to congratulate all my players.

“Wu Lei played very well indeed. He scored twice and could have had three. I am very happy to have him here in the team. We are used to seeing him score because that is one his qualities."

China conclude their group stage campaign against Korea Republic on Wednesday, with Lippi’s charges knowing that a draw would guarantee them top spot in the group.

The one-time Inter Milan and Juventus boss is, however, still undecided how to approach the game, insisting that he may yet opt to rotate his players in order to conserve their energy for later in the tournament.

“Of course, we will try our very best to beat Korea Republic, but as a coach, you must be smart and take absolutely everything into account,” he explained.

“The players who are either injured or who are not fully fit will be changed. I really need to sit down and analyse the situation in order to see what exactly is best for the next match.”

Meanwhile, opposite number Sven-Göran Eriksson was quick to praise his Philippines team, with the Swede adamant that all is not lost for the Southeast Asians who must now beat Kyrgyz Republic in their final Group C fixture to remain in contention for a place in the Round of 16 as one of the best third-placed finishers.

“It seems strange maybe, but I am rather proud of my team even though we lost 3-0,” he said.

“We played very well, and we should have taken the lead. Before the game I identified three China players who were very dangerous, and Wu Lei was one of those. He scored two great goals as we did not pay him enough attention and we paid the price because of that.

“Overall though, in the two games we have played, we have shown that we can play football. We are not going home yet, and we will see what happens in the last group stage game.”

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