Angry Chinese fans turned on their team and applauded the visiting Syrians off the field after what Chinese state media called “another embarrassing defeat”.
China’s Serbian coach Aleksandar Jankovic blamed bad luck for Tuesday’s 1-0 friendly defeat in Chengdu, days after the team was held to a 1-1 draw by Malaysia also at home.
President Xi Jinping wants China to one day host and even win the FIFA World Cup, but it is ranked 80th in the world and confidence is at an all-time low ahead of World Cup qualifying.
Thaer Krouma scored the winning goal in the second half for Syria, 94th in the FIFA rankings, in front of just over 12,000 spectators in a 60,000-seat stadium.
The newspaper, reporting from the southwestern city, said angry home fans then booed and demanded refunds.
Video footage also showed Chinese players being booed and spectators chanting: “What a shame!”
“It was a frustrating result for us,” Jankovic reportedly said after the defeat, according to the official Xinhua news agency, which noted that Chinese fans applauded the Syrian team afterward.
“We asked the players to respond after the draw against Malaysia in terms of energy, but unfortunately we could not win the match.”
“It’s easy for me to tell players on the pitch that they weren’t good enough, but I don’t like doing that,” added Jankovic, appointed in February.
“Every game is different, we can always collect important information from the defeat.”
China is going through a critical few months with the start of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup and the Asian Cup in January-February in Qatar.
Chinese football is in the grip of a major anti-corruption campaign which has seen many figures investigated or charged, including former national coach Li Tie.
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