China head coach says her team can end title drought

Mumbai, Jan 19 (Football News) A title has eluded eight-time champions China in the last four editions of the women's AFC Asian Cup but head coach Shui Qingxia says her side would fancy its chances this time.

China last won the trophy in 2006 after claiming the title for an unprecedented seven editions on the trot from 1986 to 1999. They have finished runners-up in 2008, third in 2024 and 2018.

"As the head coach and also from the point of view of the Chinese women's national team, we wish to do our best and to win the trophy, definitely," said the 55-year-old Qingxia, who will be in her first international match as head coach on Thursday against Chinese Taipei.

"Our wish is to go to the final and win the trophy. Of course, we know this requires a little bit of luck as well." Qingxia is a legend in her country as she is a five-time Asian champion as a player.

While there are a handful of new faces, Qingxia’s squad retains the experienced core of Wang Shanshan, Wang Shuang and Zhang Rui, although regular captain and defensive lynchpin Wu Haiyan has been ruled out of the tournament owing to an injury.

A major boost to the Steel Roses' chances came in the form of Tottenham Hotspur forward Tang Jiali, who has returned to the side after being unexpectedly overlooked for their Tokyo Olympics campaign.

Qingxia said Jiali may not be an immediate starter having played a full match in a 1-1 draw against West Ham United as recently as Sunday night.

"Tang Jiali had a match in England on the 16th, and after discussion between the team we decided that Tang would travel after that match," she explained.

Having won the title thrice in the 1970s and 80s, Chinese Taipei have qualified for the showpiece tournament after a 14-year absence.

"Among the team members from 2008, from that moment we have only two members in the (current) team,” said head coach Kazuo Echigo.

"Everything feels brand new for us, and I'm so excited." Chinese Taipei have never beaten China in over three decades of trying, with their most recent attempt ending in a comprehensive 0-5 defeat during the Tokyo Olympics qualifying.

The current squad is dominated by domestic players, with only two goalkeepers — Tsai Ming-Jung and Cheng Ssu-Yu — registered to overseas clubs in Japan. 

Also Read : Asian Cup: Two members of Indian team test COVID positive on eve of tournament

News Source : PTI


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