China coach Gao Hongbo does not believe the country's hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup finals are at an end despite a surprise 1-0 defeat to Syria on October 6.
Mahmoud Al Mawas scored the game's only goal in the 54th minute as the Syrians notched their first win of the final phase of Asia's qualifying tournament to leave China with just one point from their opening three qualifiers.
China are now six points adrift of group leaders Iran and South Korea, with only the top two guaranteed a place at Russia 2018, but Gao remains optimistic his team can pull themselves into contention.
"It's not true that we are losing hope after losing one or two games, our experience has told us that as long as we fight until the last second we will have an opportunity, we are up for three points in Uzbekistan match”- Gao said, whose team will take on Uzbekistan on Tuesday in their next qualifier.
"We were lucky to have reached this phase, and we have to show our appreciation to our fans. But to be frank, we are the weakest side of the 12 teams.
"We took a lot into account when we were deciding our strategy for this game, and we wanted three points very badly, but we weren't able to accomplish that."
And Gao insisted that China have to put the game out of their minds quickly.
"Syria had one counterattacking opportunity when our defence was not working well together," he added. "But I want to thank my players for working hard. They didn't give up when we were behind and that's is the positive thing.
"We have lost two games out of 10 in total, which means we still have a chance. We now have to forget this game as soon as possible and start to think about the next game."