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Steel Roses can be world champions, Jia insists

Beijing: Jia Xiuquan says there are no limits to what his China PR side can achieve at next month's 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France, revealing his belief that they are good enough to win the tournament for the first time.

Drawn alongside two-time winners Germany as well as South Africa and Spain, most observers do not consider the 16th-ranked Steel Roses among the top contenders, but head coach Jia believes there is no reason his charges can't add a global crown to their eight Asian titles.

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"Yes, it's me who said our aim was to reach the final of the Women's World Cup, however we might go even further and win the championship," Jia told China PR's Xinhua News Agency.

"Yes, I have not changed my mind if you ask me. This the target I set for my squad.

"We know that we are far apart from the world elite of women's football, and we've been working to narrow the gap between the top squads and ourselves."

China PR forged a reputation as the rulers of women's football in Asia by winning the AFC Women's Asian Cup eight times between 1986 and 2006 - and were World Cup runners-up in 1999 - but the world's most populous nation has endured more than a decade without major international success

Featuring prolific striker Wang Shanshan and 2018 AFC Women's Player of the Year Wang Shuang (pictured below), the East Asians have won 16 of 21 international matches since Jia became head coach last May, and the richly-experienced former men's international sees little point in settling for modest objectives.

"I know it sounds much more reasonable for us to aim at a quarter-final finish, but I don't want my players to focus on such a low target," he declared.

"I want them first to dream big and then go all out to achieve the highest goal possible."

China PR - who are yet to finalise their World Cup squad - will face tournament hosts France in a final pre-tournament on May 31, before beginning their campaign against Germany in Rennes on June 8.

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