Marcelo Lippi’s first game as China coach ended in a 0-0 draw with Qatar in a World Cup qualifier in Kunming on Tuesday, seriously damaging both team’s hopes of reaching the finals in Russia.
China prop up Group A midway through qualification with two points from five games while Qatar, the 2022 World Cup hosts, are second-bottom of the standings on four points.
The top two sides in Group A and B qualify automatically for the 2018 World Cup finals and the third-placed teams meet to decide who goes into a CONCACAF-Asian Zone playoff for a place at the finals.
Italian Lippi, a World Cup winner who replaced Gao Hongbo last month, saw his side dominate possession but they failed to find a way past a determined Qatari defence.
Goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb came to Qatar’s rescue in the second half when he pulled off a brilliant reflex save to tip Wu Xi’s goalbound diving header on to the crossbar.
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The woodwork again denied China 10 minutes from the final whistle when captain Zheng Zhi’s shot deflected of a Qatar defender before striking the post.
Substitute Cao Yunding, on his debut for China, almost made an immediate impact when he dribbled past several Qatari defenders before shooting into the side netting to leave China still looking for their first win in the group.