Lippi supports FIFA decision on World Cup expansion

Nanning (China), Jan 13 (IANS) China’s football team head coach Marcello Lippi on Friday hailed FIFA’s decision to expand the 2026 World Cup to 48 teams as it will provide chances for more teams to compete on the world stage.

“I’m optimistic about the change. It’s always good to have more teams to take part in the World Cup,” said Lippi, who coached his country Italy to the World Cup title in 2006.

“Although the World Cups will have more teams, the number of matches for the winning team will still be the same. I hope there will be more teams to compete at the World Cup.”

China will play against Croatia for the third place on Saturday following a 2-0 defeat to Iceland in the opening game of the 2017 Gree China Cup International Football Championship.

Lippi is unsatisfied with the physical condition of the Chinese players, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The players need to strengthen their physical condition. We played well in the first half at the last game. Our opponents couldn’t create chance,” said the 68-year-old Italian. “After one hour their physical condition went bad and conceded two goals.”

As the inaugural China Cup is not on the FIFA international calendar, all the four teams of Chile, Croatia, Iceland and the hosts could not call back their first-choice lineup. Lippi also contributed it for his side’s failure to score in the first match.

“We have two rosters for the last two games. It’s totally different,” said Lippi, “For the last World Cup qualifier against Qatar, we created many chances and hit the woodwork on three occasions.”

China will play South Korea in a must-win game on March 23 on home soil in Changsha.

–IANS

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