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Tournament lives up to Chan, Dower’s expectations

Chonburi: Both their teams may have missed out on a place in the final but for China PR head coach Chan Yuen Ting and her Australian counterpart Rae Dower, the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019 delivered what they had expected from the Continental tournament.

China PR displayed immense determination to bounce back from a first-minute deficit to beat Australia 2-1 on Saturday to finish third in the Championship for a fourth time.

Despite their respective teams' missing out on a place in the 2020 FIFA U-17 World Cup India, both coaches were extremely satisfied that the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019 gave the players valuable experience.

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“Even though we lost the ticket to the World Cup, these girls are just 15 and 16-years-old, and they have a long way to go,” said Chan.

“What they need to do is to remember what they have learned here, and continue to work and play hard."

Chan, who led Hong Kong's Eastern SC to the league title in 2016, said she too has gained special experience in managing her first women’s team.

“It has been a great experience for me. I normally coach professional men’s teams, and there are big differences between the two. But here, I feel like we’re a big family, and I’m happy to share my experience with them.

“I enjoyed my time here, and I hope I have gained something from this experience, so that I can continue improving Chinese women’s football.”

Despite their disappointing finish, Australia will leave Chonburi knowing they have retaken their place among Asia’s best four teams, a spot the Junior Matildas had not occupied for 10 years.

Dower is confident her squad has what it takes to go further, especially Hana Lowry who scored for Australia against China with less than a minute gone before she had to be substituted due to injury.

AFC U-16 Women's Championship Thailand 2019 - Third Place Play-off: China PR vs Australia

“Hana is an outstanding player at 16-years-old,” Dower said. “She’s got a left foot that most of us only dream about.

“We changed it up a little bit because she has been heavily marked since her very first performance, and everyone knew the quality she would bring.

“She will recover and she’ll be around for the W-League. She’s a superstar to come and the sky’s the limit for that kid. I’m extremely proud of her performance overall.”

The AFC Women’s Committee approved on Friday to change the format of the AFC U-16 and U-19 Women’s Championships to the AFC U-17 and U-20 Women’s Championships - to be in line with the FIFA age-group tournaments.

“There’s going to be a gap as there are changes in the qualification, so a majority of these girls will look to make the next U-20 national team.

“I hope that some of these girls that you saw here will be in the AFC U-20 Women’s Championship.”

Photos: AFC

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