Lippi leads China over SKorea 1-0 in World Cup qualifier

South Korean midfielder Ki Sung-yueng speaks during a press conference at a hotel in Changsha China

Lippi leads China over SKorea 1-0 in World Cup qualifier

China coach Marcello Lippi has sought to bolster player confidence ahead of a do-or-die World Cup qualifying clash with South Korea on Thursday as the Italian attempts to encourage his squad to display more self-belief.

It came as coach Ange Postecoglou boldly unveiled a brand new 3-4-3 formation at the PAS Stadium and the players took some time to adjust as they hung on for their fourth qualifying draw in a row.

Yu gave the Chinese the lead with glancing header 11 minutes from the end of the first half before an impressive showing by goalkeeper Zeng Cheng kept South Korea at bay as the Guangzhou Evergrande goalkeeper twice denied Ki Sung-yeung and also saved from Ji Dong-won.

German Stielike, who was hired in 2014, apologised to South Korea fans for the defeat and promised improvements from his side, who failed to convert superior ball possession into goals in Changsha.

Uzbekistan is third with three wins and three losses (nine points).

"Now we are five points away from the second team in the group and we must play well in the next games and hope we could win as many games as possible".

With the defeat, it is now uncertain whether Korea will be able to directly advance to the World Cup in Russian Federation, although Syria's 1-0 victory against Uzbekistan in a match later in the day helped Korea retain second place in the group.

In late games in the Gulf, Iran edged Qatar 1-0 to open a four-point lead over South Korea while Japan beat the United Arab Emirates 2-0 to move into an automatic qualifying spot.

South Korea has 10 points from six matches in Group A and is still on course to qualify for the World Cup in Russian Federation. "Yu's goal from Wang's corner was what we trained lots of times in the past week", said Lippi.

Only the top two teams from the six-team groups qualify automatically.

"And I think we always play our football, always try to work hard, whether in training or on the pitch".

Meanwhile in Group B, Australia have much to ponder after their 1-1 draw against Iraq left them with work ahead to secure their spot in Russian Federation.

It looked as though the Socceroos would see out the second half and claim a crucial win, but substitute Ahmed Yasin deservedly levelled for the hosts 14 minutes from the end to earn a share of the spoils.

With each of the two final round groups offering two automatic qualification places, with the third place finishers entering a play-off against each other for the right to then face a team from the North, Central America and Caribbean region, Saudi Arabia and Japan are now in pole position to progress from group B.

Japan, in second, lost the opening game at home to United Arab Emirates and faces a tricky trip to Al Ain for a return game against the team that sits in fourth, just a point behind.

Mohammed Al Sahlawi and Salman Al Muwashar scored a goal each in Bangkok while Tanaboon Kesarat added an own-goal to give Saudi Arabia a 3-0 win over Thailand.

Under Carlos Queiroz, Iran has yet to concede a goal in six games, and could have won by more in Doha.

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