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After long isolation, Steel Roses welcome Wang’s return

Suzhou: Chinese women’s national team head coach Jia Xiuquan has paid tribute to returning star Wang Shuang, after the 2018 AFC Women’s Player of the Year joined her teammates for the first time since being separated as a result of the coronavirus.

The former Paris Saint-Germain spent more than two months in isolation in Wuhan, forcing her to miss China PR’s Tokyo Olympic Qualifiers in Australia and continue her training within the confines of her apartment building.

With Wuhan’s lockdown finally at an end, and after a week or quarantine within the team camp, Wang and fellow Wuhan locals Lv Yueyun and Yao Wei finally took part in a training session with their international teammates on Thursday.

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In a message published by the Chinese Football Association on social media, head coach Jia paid tribute to his returning players, who have become a symbol of the nation’s fight to overcome the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“The national team welcomes you back,” the former Chinese men’s international told the trio. “We were concerned for you all the time during the epidemic in Wuhan.

“The situation now is getting better and Wuhan ended the lockdown from April 8, however, our responsibility is for the team and your health, therefore we still followed the local medical guidelines to temporarily isolate you for one week after testing negative."

Videos of Wang training within her home went around the world during her absence from her national teammates, who themselves drew plaudits with an unbeaten run in Olympic qualifying, despite their preparations for the tournament being interrupted by two weeks in isolation in their Australian hotel.

Jia, who has regularly praised his team’s mental strength in recent months, said he hoped Wang, Lv and Yao would be able to resume their roles in the national team as soon as possible.

“It was a challenge for you to do your training indoor, but this is a hard time for everyone in the world,” Jia told the players.

“I hope you will carry forward the solidarity spirit of the Chinese national women's football team, overcome these difficulties and continue to contribute to our team and country.”

Earlier this week Wang revealed her own delight at returning to the side.

“I have waited 77 days to join my team,” she told broadcaster CCTV. "I couldn’t even sleep the night I received the announcement on April 5.

“This is the most exciting time for me - to meet my team. I woke up at 6:30am and didn’t feel tired, just very happy.”

China remain in the hunt for the final Asian place in the Tokyo Olympics women’s football tournament, with a two-legged playoff against Korea Republic to determine which nation will join qualified Australia and tournament host Japan in the final draw.

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