NANNING, China, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Fabio Cannavaro gave an ominous debut as head coach of Chinese men's soccer national team as his side lost to Thailand 1-0 at the opening match of China Cup on Thursday.
Wu Xi of China controls the ball during 2019 China Cup International Football Championship between China and Thailand at Guangxi Sports Center on March 21, 2019 in Nanning, Guangxi Province. (Photo: VCG)
Chanathip Songkrasin, dubbed as Thailand's Messi, scored the winner at the 33rd minute with a deadly drive which gave China's goalkeeper Yan Junling no chance to save.
At the 71st minute, Yan made an wonderful save as he parried a close-range shot.
China came close to scoring several times, only to find inspired Thailand goalkeeper Siwarak Tedsungnoen unbeatable.
Tedsungnoen saved a dangerous shot by Chinese striker Wei Shihao at 88th minute -- China's last effort to equalise.
Cannavaro, who serves as head coach of China's top flight club Guangzhou Evergrande, was appointed as head coach of China last friday amid controversy.
The 46-year-old Italian said on Wednesday that after the China Cup he will negotiate with Chinese soccer decision-makers before deciding his future with the Chinese national team.
China developed an intriguing rivalry with Thailand since they were humiliated 5-1 by the Thais in June 2013 in a friendly at home -- a loss that still rankles now.