Football: China's World Cup chances 'worrying' - Marcello Lippi

Italian coach Marcello Lippi at a press conference at the China World Summit Wing in Beijing on Oct 28, 2016.
Italian coach Marcello Lippi at a press conference at the China World Summit Wing in Beijing on Oct 28, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

Beijing (AFP) - China's chances of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia are "not impossible but definitely worrying", new Italian coach Marcello Lippi said on Friday.

The 68-year-old - who led his own country to victory at the 2006 World Cup - was named the national team's new boss by the Chinese Football Association over the weekend.

He faces the uphill task of steering the hapless Asian giant to the tournament, a near impossible feat after recent losses to Uzbekistan and war-torn Syria.

"The qualifying table for the 2018 World Cup is worrying, not impossible but definitely worrying," Lippi told his first press conference in Beijing.

"I want to build the team, help the players improve, to have confidence in themselves. If we win three or four games and miss out on qualification by just one point, that will still represent progress."

China have claimed just one point from four games in the latest World Cup Asian qualification phase and are bottom in Group A, which includes Iran, Uzbekistan, South Korea, Syria and Qatar.

Their previous coach Gao Hongbo announced his resignation after a 2-0 away defeat to Uzbekistan earlier this month.

Lippi boasts an impressive CV that includes nine successful years at Juventus, although his second turn in charge of Italy ended in an ignominious first-round exit at South Africa 2010.

He went on to coach Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande to three consecutive Chinese Super League titles between 2012 and 2014, and the AFC Champions League crown in 2013, their first win in the Asian tournament.