Saturday, 19, August, 2017

China coach Marcello Lippi is already planning for the future and will call up a number of young players for the qualifier against Uzbekistan with China's World Cup hopes effectively over.

China will host Uzbekistan on Aug 31 but are on a run of one win in eight games in the latest qualifying round for Russia 2018, leaving them bottom of the group.

With two matches to go they are still in with a mathematical possibility of pinching a play-off spot if they beat the Uzbeks and win at Qatar and other results go their way.

But Italian Lippi appears to be looking beyond that and his assistant Massimiliano Maddaloni said this week: "The final squad will be announced a week before the match. Young players who performed well in the U-22 Asian qualifiers will also get a chance to be included."

A young Chinese team led by Maddaloni defeated Japan last week to top their group in Asian under-23 championship qualifying, signalling hopes of better times for China's much-maligned national side.

China have only made it to the World Cup once, in 2002, but President Xi Jinping is a big football fan and the country is throwing large amounts of money at the game to fast improve its dismal fortunes.

 

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