China boss Marcello Lippi admits to mistakes following his team’s mauling by Ryan Giggs’ Welsh Dragons
Italian stops short of criticising players following big loss, but says he may have got his selection wrong for opening China Cup tie
China boss Marcello Lippi declared himself “disappointed” after witnessing his Chinese revolution spectacularly derailed on a grim night for the national team in Nanning but accepted some of the blame for the mauling.
The Italian has made solid progress with his limited squad since taking over 17 months ago, but handed arguably the stiffest test of his tenure, his charges choked on the big stage and were humiliated 6-0 in front of a capacity home crowd in their opening match of the 2018 China Cup on Thursday.
All eyes were on Real Madrid man Gareth Bale in the lead up to the match, and most of the talk was about the Welsh wizard after it following a superb hat-trick on a night when he wasn’t certain to get any playing time.
Lippi was sullen in his post-match media conference but was hopeful when discussing his side’s progress, and suggested he had made some mistakes with his team selection for the match.
“[The scoreline was] not unexpected because they are strong opponents. What was unexpected was the performance of the team,” Xinhua quoted Lippi as saying.
“I take all the responsibility. It was my mistake to call up some players that I shouldn’t have called up for these matches.”
The defeat was the sixth loss since he took charge but easily the heaviest of the 69-year-old’s time with the national team, who are currently ranked 65 in the world, their highest position since 2004.
The veteran manager named a much-changed side for the encounter but surely felt the wholesale changes wouldn’t lead to such a loss of coherence.
They were abysmal against the world’s No 20 side.
"It's a fantastic achievement... He's capable of hurting any team in the world"
Wales manager Ryan Giggs on Gareth Bale becoming Wales' record goalscorer.
Read all about it here: https://t.co/8hOBSdqzYR pic.twitter.com/B4cqAIOv38
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) March 22, 2018
The writing was on the wall as early as the second minute when Burnley striker Sam Vokes provided the first of two assists for Bale to open the scoring. Another from Bale, one from Vokes and a Harry Wilson effort handed Wales a 4-0 lead at the interval before Lippi made five changes.
Lippi admitted afterwards that there was still much work to be done if his team are to achieve their ambition of qualifying for the next World Cup, but wouldn’t be drawn on criticising his squad.
“I don’t want to talk about the attacking side of the [performance]. What is most important is the mentality of the players,” Lippi said.
— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) March 22, 2018
Meanwhile, Lippi’s opposite number Ryan Giggs enjoyed a fantastic start to his international management career and was pleased with his side’s performance.
“We were at it right from the beginning. On the front foot. I’ve got the utmost respect for Marcello Lippi. It was a great privilege to come up against such a legendary coach in my first game,” Giggs said.
Bale’s haul saw him surpass the legendary Ian Rush as Wales’ record goalscorer with 29. However, he was quick to praise the contribution of his teammates.
“It’s great to break the record. I couldn’t have done it without the teammates. The most important thing is to get off to a good start under the new manager and we’re happy with where we’re going,” Bale said.
China’s next match is on Monday against the losers of the clash between Czech Republic and Uruguay.
Lippi will desperately want to avoid another humbling against higher-ranked opposition.