Under-fire coach Li Tie says his China team must “go all out and leave no regrets” when they face the Socceroos in World Cup qualifying next week.
China’s hopes copped another blow in a 1-1 draw against Oman on Thursday and calls for Li to resign were widespread on social media on Friday.
The draw left China in fifth place in Group B and well off the top two spot they would need to earn an automatic berth at the finals in Qatar next year.
Li was particularly criticised in the Chinese media for substituting naturalised Brazilian forward Luo Guofu seven minutes before Oman equalised Wu Lei’s first-half goal.
China remain in the United Arab Emirates for their next fixture against Australia on Tuesday, where a defeat would leave their hopes of qualifying in tatters.
“After five games, we saw the gap between us and those best Asian teams, but it doesn’t mean that we have no chance at all,” Li said after Thursday’s match.
“We must go all out and leave no regrets on the pitch. The Australian team is a strong opponent and we have to do our best to fight for a victory.”
The former Everton centre half said he and his players had to look forward, despite the disappointment at not taking all three points.
“We should have won the game,” Li said. “We played the game well with strong determination to win, this is very disappointing.
“After going into the lead, we should have killed off the opponents with a couple of chances. But this is how football works.
“The players came here with a strong belief and were let down by the result, same as me.”
China have appeared only once at the World Cup finals in 2002, when they finished bottom of their group after losing all three games without scoring a goal.