Al-Ain (UAE): Marcello Lippi said China need to learn how to focus for an entire game ahead of their crunch Asian Cup quarter-final with Iran, the biggest — and possibly last — game of his tenure. The Italian World Cup-winning coach hailed his players after they overcame Thailand 2-1 to reach the last eight, saying they had proved they were among the best in Asia. But Lippi, 70, said China still had a habit of drifting in and out of games after another Jekyll-and-Hyde performance in which they trailed 1-0 midway through the second half.
“Chinese players have to improve psychologically,” said Lippi, who is expected to leave China after the Asian Cup following two-and-a-half years at the helm. Sometimes they need to be much more focused and concentrated and pay more attention during the game. It’s a psychological thing. “It’s very important to have the same intensity, the same determination from the beginning of the game.”
China were under the cosh against Thailand on Sunday until Lippi switched his formation at half-time, turning the tables as they swamped the Thais for much of the second period. But Iran, Asia’s top-ranked team, will provide a much stiffer test and the expectation is that after Thursday’s game in Abu Dhabi, China will be packing their bags.