Wang Shuang: Jia wants us to go for it
Montpellier: The time has come for China PR’s attacking stars to show what they can do at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, according to their biggest star of all, reigning AFC Women’s Player of the Year Wang Shuang.
The Steel Roses have reached the knockout stage for the seventh time in World Cup football but they have done so despite finding the back of the net just once in three group stage matches.
Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s blockbuster Round of 16 clash against Italy in Montpellier, Wang said she and her attack-minded teammates have been told to be brave and maximise their effectiveness in the final third.
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“Over the last few days Mr Jia has stressed that we need to be more confident and show our own style in the attacking third,” said Wang, who is expected to start at Stade de la Mosson.
“I believe that we have our own unique style, but I think there’s something lacking in our mentality, so Mr Jia has told us to break through ourselves and attack more.
“In my personal perspective, the coaching staff have always been telling us that we need to be more confident and dominate the game more. In tomorrow’s game I think we will show a different spirit.”
Tuesday’s clash is one of two Asia vs. Europe fixtures on the final day of Round of 16 action, with Japan and China two of only three non-European teams to remain in contention in the tournament.
Indeed, five of the six nations to have booked their places in the quarter-finals are European, with the world number one United States the sole exception, in a stunningly successful competition for teams from the continent.
Italy, who defied their relatively lowly world ranking of 15 to top Group C, are emblematic of the European rise, and Wang is impressed by what she has seen from Le Azzurre.
“I believe, as a whole, Italy is great, and they’ve improved a lot lately,” she declared.
“Undeniably, European football has been gaining speed and every team has been improving. We have seen lately that the attacking third of Italy have their unique style.
“I think European teams have more physical clashes and a different style. In terms of mentality, physicality and skills, I think European teams have been improving in every way.”
With an eight-day break since the crucial 0-0 draw with Spain which sealed their place in the Round of 16, Wang is reportedly one of several Chinese players to have used the extra lay-off to resolve lingering fitness concerns.
Having joined up late with the rest of Chinese squad following her maiden season in European football, it took time for Wang to reach full fitness, but the Paris Saint-Germain star confirmed that she is ready to go against the Italians.
“I don’t think it’s just the past few days that I’ve been training hard,” she joked. “I’ve always been training hard.”
“The group stage is over, and we are preparing for tomorrow’s game. I think we are a very passionate group and we are ready.”
Photos: AFP, Chinese Football Association
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