(CGTN) Marcello Lippi has announced his resignation as China head coach after his side slumped to a devastating 2-1 defeat at the hands of Syria in 2022 World Cup qualifying match in Dubai on Thursday night.
"I was well paid and I take the full responsibility. I am now announcing my resignation and I will be no longer the coach of Team China," the veteran Italian coach said in the post-match press conference.
It was proving a hard-fought contest as Syria broke the deadlock in the 19th minute when Mahmoud al-Mawas' cross from the right was headed past goalkeeper Yan Junling by a towering Osama Omari.
Espanyol striker Wu Lei equalized 10 minutes later when he met Wu Xi's pass and slotted home with a fine finish. However, Guangzhou Evergrande central defender Zhang Linpen, who had just recovered from an injury, spoiled the day for China when he turned a shot from Omar al-Somah past Yu and into his own net.
The loss left China five points adrift of the table-topping Syrians at the halfway point of the qualification group stage. Only the winners from each of the eight qualification groups for the finals in Qatar will advance to the next round, with four runners-up having the best records also progressing.
The Chinese team, which is attempting to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 2002, currently holds second place in Group A with seven points alongside the Philippines. Team Dragon have to win their remaining four games to have an outside chance to advance into the next round.
It was a difficult night for big-name European managers in Asia. Dutchman Van Marwijk also endured a miserable evening as his United Arab Emirates side succumbed to a 1-0 defeat by Vietnam to drop to third in Group G.
The Vietnamese lead with 10 points with Thailand in second after their 2-1 defeat by Malaysia ensured Tan Cheng Hoe's team remain in contention for a place in the next phase.
Belgian Wilmots's Iran suffered a 2-1 loss to old foes Iraq, with Alaa Abbas scoring in stoppage time to put Srecko Katanec's side in command of Group C, which they lead on 10 points from Bahrain, who drew 0-0 with Hong Kong.
There was better news for Paulo Bento as South Korea picked up a point with a 0-0 draw against Lebanon to stay atop Group H while Turkmenistan remained in the race for a place in the next round with a 3-1 win over the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Japan maintained its perfect record thanks to goals from Takumi Minamino and Genki Haraguchi which sealed a 2-0 win for Hajime Moriyasu's side over Kyrgyzstan to give the Samurai Blue 12 points from four games.
The Japanese lead Group F by six points from Kyrgyzstan with Tajikistan in third after their 4-3 defeat by Myanmar.
In Group E, Seminlen Doungel scored in stoppage time to earn India a 1-1 draw with Afghanistan while Oman thrashed Bangladesh 4-1.
Australia kept their winning run intact with a 1-0 victory over Jordan in Group B courtesy of a goal from Adam Taggart, and Graham Arnold's side are now five points clear of Kuwait, who dished out a 9-0 hammering to Chinese Taipei.