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Lippi confident ahead of first match as China coach


11-15-2016 10:55 BJT

Decorated Italian coach Marcello Lippi takes charge of China’s men for the first time tonight when they host Qatar in must-win World Cup qualifier in Kunming.

A disastrous start to the campaign has left the Chinese bottom of Group A with one point after defeats against Syria and Uzbekistan that cost Gao Hongbo his job.

Marcello Lippi, head coach of China

Marcello Lippi, head coach of China's national soccer team, reacts during the press conference for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Asian Zone Qualifiers against Qatar at Tuodong Sports Stadium in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, on Nov. 14, 2016. (Xinhua/Lin Yiguang)

The former Juventus and Guangzhou Evergrande boss now has the difficult task of guiding his new team to what would be only their second appearance at the global event.

The players had their last training session at the Tuodong Sports centre yesterday. The 68-year-old coach has kept his possible team selection quiet but has the luxury of a fully-fit squad to choose from.

Lippi knows all about being successful at the highest level having lifted the World Cup in charge of Italy in 2006. He recently spoke about the importance of mental strength when playing and is trying to instil a much bigger sense of togetherness within the out of form team.

However, his first job is to get three points against the Middle Eastern nation, which is something he knows will not be easy.

“Regarding Qatar, I think I have a lot of knowledge of our opponent. I watched all four of their previous matches. I know they had a new head coach for the last two qualifying matches,” Lippi said.

“He is a very talented coach who has a lot of experience in Qatar. So he knows his players well. They had very good results in the last two matches. Qatar is a country with a lot of people who love football. We also know that they will host the World Cup after Russia.”

China hosts Qatar in Kunming

Qatar was scheduled to arrive in Kunming on Sunday morning, but were delayed first until Sunday night, and then were delayed again at the Bangkok airport and did not actually make it to China until Monday afternoon.

After they arrived and got to the field, the team was able to focus on the task at hand, and the squad’s coach is confident his team will perform well.

“I repeat, we know that we will confront a very tough opponent. But we trust in our possibilities. And, of course, we will play thinking of taking the victory that I imagine is the same that will try China,” said Jorge Fossati, Qatar coach.

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