Marcello Lippi keeps China options open ahead of Asian Cup

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Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

China PR coach Marcello Lippi insists there are still spots in his squad up for grabs with AFC Asian Cup 2019 just four months away.

China spent the recent international break preparing for the Asian Cup with a trip to West Asia, where they were beaten 1-0 by Qatar before drawing 0-0 with Bahrain.

If the Dragons are to be genuine contenders at United Arab Emirates 2019 in January, these are games that they will need to be winning but Lippi believes the two friendlies will stand them in good stead and hinted that there will be fresh faces in coming games.

“We have to learn from the experience and shortcomings from this trip to West Asia,” said the legendary Italian coach, according to the Asian Football Confederation’s official website.

“What is important is that we put these lessons to good use.

“Selection to the national team is still open as there were some players who did not make this squad.

“We need to mobilise more players before the final squad is selected.”

It will be interesting to see who else Lippi will give a chance to prove their worth ahead of next January given the most recent squad boasted almost all of his established stars, including 38-year-old playmaker Zheng Zhi, star winger Wu Lei, as well as the experienced Zhang Linpeng, Zhao Xuri, Gao Lin and Zhao Xuri.

Nonetheless, an interesting option could be 21-year-old striker Zhang Yuning, who is yet to make his debut for English side West Brom after joining them last July but is currently on loan at ADO Den Haag in the Dutch Eredivisie.