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Search on for Lippi's successor as China PR head coach

Kuala Lumpur: The Chinese Football Association (CFA) will begin the search for a new head coach after accepting the resignation of Marcello Lippi following his side’s 2-1 loss against Syria in the Asian Qualifiers on Thursday.

Lippi announced his intention to stand down from the role during the post-match press conference after Zhang Linpeng’s 76th minute own goal handed Syria a fourth win in a row to leave China PR’s hopes of advancing to the next round in jeopardy.

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"We were able to beat weaker opponents like the Maldives and Guam, but when we encountered stronger teams like the Philippines and Syria, we could not play our own football," Lippi said after the game in Dubai.

"I was well paid and I take full responsibility. I am now announcing my resignation and I will no longer be the coach of Team China.”

China started their campaign with wins over the Maldives and Guam but were under pressure going into the Syria game following a 0-0 draw with the Philippines in Bacolod last month.

They went behind to a Osama Omari header 19 minutes into the meeting at Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium, but Wu Lei pulled his side level 15 minutes before halftime, only for Zhang’s own goal to gift the Syrians all three points.

China have amassed seven points from their first four Asian Qualifiers, leaving them level with the Philippines and five points behind Syria in Group A.

Only the group winners are guaranteed to progress, with the four runners-up with the best records also going through to the third round of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

China have already qualified for the AFC Asian Cup 2023 as hosts.

"Head coach Lippi announced his resignation in the post-match press conference and the CFA has accepted it," the Chinese Football Association confirmed in a statement issued soon after the game.

"We are really sorry that the unsatisfactory results have disappointed all Chinese fans. The CFA will reflect seriously to rebuild the team and will try our best in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers."

China’s next Asian Qualifiers match sees them host the Maldives on March 26.

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