China’s hope to advance to 2018 FIFA World Cup finals dimmed as they lost 2-0 to Uzbekistan here on Tuesday night, collecting only one point from four matches played and standing last but one in the six-team Group B.
China coach Gao Hongbo, 50, announced his resignation at the post-match press conference.
Gao retook the rein of the Chinese national team in February 2016 and led the team to beat Qatar 2-0 at home on March 29 to clinch the last ticket to the Asian Zone qualifying tournament last round which comprises 12 teams.
China were drawn into Group B with South Korea, Iran, Uzbekistan, Qatar and Syria. After the one-year-long round-robin home-and-away competitions, the top two finishers will advance to Russia directly and the third finisher will have playoff with its counterpart in Group A.
So far, China lost 3-2 to South Korea, 2-0 to Uzbeikistan on road, tied Iran 0-0 and lost 1-0 to Syria at home.
Having stunned by Syria on Oct. 6, China knew that the match against Uzbekistan became a do-or-die duel in a sense. But Chinese fans were disappointed again, not only at the result, but also at the poor performance of the whole team in the game.
Gao made seven changes in his formation against Uzbekistan to fortify the defense. But it didn’t work. The statistics showed that China got only two shots in the whole game as compared to 19 for Uzbekistan.
Gao failed to mould an effective formation nor playing style for the Chinese team and all his tries ended in vain. Although there are still six matches remaining, the performances of the Chinese team have not given the fans any hope.
Uzbekistan’s Igor Sergeev almost broke the deadlock in the 31st minute, but his shot in close range was denied by China keeper Yang Zhi, his club teammate of Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan.
Marat Bikmaev’s shot found the net in the 50th minute after receiving Devronbek Khashimov’s pass. The goal made chaos in Chinese defence line and two shots from Uzbekistan hit the woodwork in the next 10 minutes.
China changed its formation to 4-2-3-1, but it couldn’t solve the problem of weak midfield defense in the last 30 minutes.
In the 85th minute, Otabek Shukurov doubled the lead through a long shot. Uzbekistan snatched their third victory in the four games played.
“I will leave the national team because of poor health,” said Gao, a big name in his professional life as a Chinese footballer.
Gao started his coaching career in 1998. In April 2009, he became the head coach of the Chinese national football team but was sacked in August 2011 and replaced by Jose Antonio Camacho from Spain.
China will host Qatar in Kunming on Nov. 15, the fifth game of the qualifiers, and they must find a new head coach firstly.