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China coach quits after WC18 setback

China coach Gao Hongbo has quit following a disastrous 2-0 World Cupqualifier defeat by Uzbekistan.
China coach quits after WC18 setback
Photo Source: AP

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China coach Gao Hongbo has resigned after a 2-0 defeat in Uzbekistan almost certainly ended hopes of automatic qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

Marat Bikmaev and Otabek Shukurov scored a goal each in Tashkent to leave China with just a single point from the first four games in Asia's third round of qualification.

The team, which lost 1-0 at home to Syria on Thursday, has only ever appeared at one World Cup, in 2002.

``I would like to thank the players and the fans for supporting me,'' Gao said. ``I think it is time to step down.''

Uzbekistan has nine points and is second in Group B behind Iran.

A first-half strike from Sardar Azmoun gave Iran victory over South Korea in Tehran to move to top of Group A with 10 points.

Azmoun, 21, scored goal number 16 in just his 22nd appearance for Iran, which dominated the game in front of almost 100,000 fans at the Azadi Stadium.

South Korea, aiming for a ninth successive appearance at the World Cup, struggled to threaten and is left in third place in the group with seven points, two behind Uzbekistan in second place.

Mohannad Abdulraheem scored all four goals as Iraq beat Thailand for its first points in Group B, which is topped by the Socceroos.

Abdulraheem scored two goals in each half against a team that finished with 10 men after Koravit Namwiset was sent off with 20 minutes remaining.

Thailand has lost all four of its group games.

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