China coach Marcello Lippi blames fitness for Iceland defeat

Marcello Lippi blamed inexperience and a lack of fitness as he continues to wait for his first win as China coach after seeing his side lose 2-0 to Iceland in the opening game of the inaugural China Cup on Tuesday evening.

Lippi, who took over as China coach in October, selected a squad that featured few of his regular squad for the friendly tournament, which also features Chile and Croatia, and the Chinese struggled as a result.

Kjartan Finnbogason gave Iceland the lead after 64 minutes with a close range finish before Aron Sigurdarson put the result beyond doubt two minutes from time.

"We are in the preparation stage for winter training and the players haven't played for two months," said Lippi. "Their legs were heavy and many of them are newcomers to the national team.

"Iceland were more experienced and a lot of our players were very nervous and their physical condition dropped quickly. But, in the first 60 minutes I saw some of the things I asked for."

China failed to win their first game with Lippi at the helm when his side were held to a 0-0 draw by Qatar in qualifying for the World Cup in November, but with the Chinese Super League currently in the middle of its winter break, the veteran coach was eager to highlight the difference in the fitness of the players.

"I can only recruit players with a certain physical condition, but that doesn't mean they can play right away and win the match," he said. "Also, our opponents are in the middle of their season and you can see how determined they were.

"Some of our players haven't had any winter training, so I didn't call up any of the regulars for the squad. You can see that neither Croatia or Chile have a full squad and none of the four teams are playing with their best team. You can only judge a team when they are at full strength."

China will play either Chile or Croatia in the third-place playoff on Saturday.