Jia: China PR can be champions
Shanghai: China PR's women's national team head coach Jia Xiuquan has reiterated his desire to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup France in June.
The Steel Roses’ best finish at a World Cup was in 1999 when they finished as runners-up, narrowly losing 5-4 on penalties to the United States after extra time.
Since then, the team reached the quarter-finals on three occasions - in 2003, 2007 and 2015.
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China PR, ranked 15th in the world, are grouped with Germany, Spain and South Africa in Group B, and Jia is working on getting his squad into prime condition ahead of the competition in June.
"Don't be startled, but our ultimate goal for the World Cup is to be the champions. I hope our players will do their best and make a breakthrough (at the World Cup),” Jia told Chinese media.
The 55-year-old was the top scorer in the 1984 AFC Asian Cup and was named Most Valuable Player which saw China PR finish runners-up in the Continental competition.
Jia is no stranger to the national set-up, having had coaching spells with the U-17s, U-23s and most recently the U-20s in 2017.
His appointment for the Steel Roses in May last year, the first time managing a women’s team, has been encouraging, helping China PR win their seventh Four Nations title as well as the 2018 Yongchuan International Tournament.
"We are always pursuing perfection, and we have to learn from defeat," Jia said referring to the Algarve Cup, in which China PR finished last this year.
"We need to hone our tactical skills further. I hope they can repeat what they did at the Asian Games last year." China PR finished runners-up at the Asian Games last year in Indonesia.
Striker Wang Shuang (pictured above) will spearhead China PR's attacking options. The prolific forward is now a star player with French top-flight club Paris Saint-Germain.
"I hope more players going overseas will help Chinese women's football grow. It helps build confidence and mental adaptability. We have seen some promising progress from Wang and I hope our players can go to some other countries where women's football is at world level," added Jia.
China PR once sat fifth in the world in 2003 but have seen their world ranking fall over the years but the Steel Roses are on the rise following a string of good performances. A marked improvement since 2013, where they were ranked 18th.
"Women's football has developed fast these past few years, we will do our best to keep up with the pace," Jia noted.
Steel Roses captain Wu Haiyan (pictured above) believes the team have improved significantly over the years and the desire to do well at the world stage has not diminished.
"Mentally and tactically we have progressed a lot compared to four years ago. This has made us more ambitious than last time when we were preparing for the World Cup,” said Wu.
Photos: Chinese Football Association, FIFA, AFP
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