Italian World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro on Sunday said that he was quitting as coach of China after just two matches in charge, both 1-0 home defeats.
It will increase speculation that his mentor and fellow Italian Marcello Lippi is in line to make a shock return, just three months after he left.
The 45-year-old Cannavaro made the announcement on social media and said it was to focus on his family and his job as coach of Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande.
“With due respect for China as a great country, I feel it’s necessary to announce my decision to give up my position as the Chinese men’s coach,” Cannavaro wrote on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.
Cannavaro was appointed Lippi’s successor in mid-March and there was speculation that the China Cup was an audition for the post long term.
If that was the case, former Real Madrid and Juventus defender Cannavaro failed the test, losing 1-0 to Thailand and going down to Uzbekistan by the same flat scoreline.
The 71-year-old Lippi stood down as China coach following a 3-0 defeat to Iran in the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup in January but had stayed on as an adviser to Cannavaro.