Nanning, Mar 21: 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.
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 a 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. (UNI-Xinhua)