HONG KONG (Reuters) - Tianjin Quanjian coach Fabio Cannavaro’s hopes of leading his side into next year’s Asian Champions League suffered a second blow in five days as they lost 1-0 at Jiangsu Suning in the Chinese Super League on Thursday.
The latest setback comes after they suffered a 4-1 thrashing away to local rivals Tianjin Teda last Saturday, a result which the Chinese FA (CFA) announced on Monday it would investigate after reports of alleged irregularities.
There was further trouble on the pitch for Quanjian, however, with former Chelsea midfielder Ramires scoring the winner to leave Cannavaro’s team in fourth place, two points behind Hebei CFFC with just four games remaining.
The top three teams plus the winners of the Chinese FA Cup will qualify for next year’s continental championship and the back-to-back losses have hit Quanjian’s chances of appearing in the competition for the first time.
“We should have (led) 2-0 in the first half but we ended up like this,” said Cannavaro. “It’s not easy to comment. However, compared with the last game, we improved the game quality and control of the ball. We had some highlight moments.”
The Chinese Super League resumes on Oct. 13 and Italian Cannavaro will be without Pei Shuai for the next round of matches after the defender was sent off late in the game.
“Unfortunately, we still conceded a goal due to our set-piece defensive flaws and we had a player sent off,” he said.
“These will definitely influence our upcoming matches. It is a bitter game for us. I can’t say we should have nailed it down 100 percent, but it shouldn’t have been like this.
“Now we need to hold our heads high and fight for our target. We haven’t been left behind in the rankings so we still can fight for something until the last game.
“This short break is very important for us and will release us from fatigue and stress and get us back on track.”
Tianjin Quanjian’s defeat by a Tianjin Teda side fighting relegation is under investigation by a CFA task force.
“Following tip-offs and received reports, the Chinese Football Association has started an investigation into the CSL Round 26 game between Tianjin Teda and Tianjin Quanjian,” the Chinese FA said in a statement earlier this week.
“A task force composed of the CFA’s competition department, legal department, the commission of morality and fair play and the disciplinary committee will look into the case and gather evidence.
“The CFA will implement its regulations strictly if any anti-disciplinary activities are found.”
Teda are 14th in the 16-team league, with the last two teams in the standings relegated to the second division.
The club, coached by ex-South Korea manager Uli Stielike, moved three points clear of second-bottom Yanbian Funde when they beat visiting Guizhou Zhicheng 3-1 on Wednesday to give themselves a cushion going into the final run of matches.
Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Ken Ferris