Kunming (China): Newly-appointed coach Marcello Lippi improved China’s performance but failed to bring the team a desperately-needed win over Qatar in the last stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Asian Zone qualifiers here on Tuesday.
 
The goalless draw kept China at the bottom of the 6-team Group A which includes South Korea, Iran, Uzbekistan, Qatar and Syria, with only two points from five games.
 
The top two of the group will advance to Russia 2018 directly after home-and-away round-robin group league matches and the third finisher will have a play-off against their counterparts in Group B.
 
The hosts, boasting 67% ball possession, dominated the game from the beginning with Wu Lei, Jiang Zhipeng and Zhang Yuning testing Qatar’s goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb consecutively.
 
But they neither converted the 20 shots into goals nor gave their new Italian coach a jubilant debut.
 
In the first half, Jiang’s pass found Zhang comfortably in the penalty but Zhang drove the ball inches wide of the near post.
 
In the second half, Wu Xi’s header from Huang Bowen’s corner was blocked onto the cross bar and captain Zheng Zhi’s long drive hit the post.
 
In Qatar’s seven shots in total, the best chance came in the fifth minute when veteran striker Sebastian Suria’s wicket back-heel kick slid just past the near post.
 
Five of China’s starting XI were from Guangzhou Evergrande, which Lippi led to the Chinese Super League title three times from 2012 to 2014.
 
First Published | 16 November 2016 2:37 PM
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