2018 Fifa World Cup Asian qualifying

Marcello Lippi to give success-starved China glimpse of future during qualifier with World Cup hopes all but over

Home game against Uzbekistan at the end of August could still prove crucial on road to Russia 2018

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 3:21pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 3:25pm

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

China host Uzbekistan on August 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 following their 2-2 draw with Syria in June.

With two matches remaining, China are still in with a mathematical possibility of pinching a play-off spot if they beat Uzbekistan and win in Qatar and other results go their way.

“The final squad will be announced a week before the match. Young players who performed well in the under-23 Asian qualifiers will also get a chance to be included,” said Lippi’s assistant Massimiliano Maddaloni

A young China team led by Maddaloni defeated Japan last week to top their group during the AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers, 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.

They face a tough test against an Uzbekistan side who are third in qualifying and eyeing a spot in Russia.