Author Topic: Chinese women seek timely boost in Olympic preparations  (Read 881 times)

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Chinese women seek timely boost in Olympic preparations
« on: May 28, 2008, 07:16:28 AM »
HO CHI MINH CITY: Defending champions China go gunning for a ninth title at the Women's Asian Cup finals this week as they seek a timely boost to their Olympic preparations.

The Steel Roses have been by far the most dominant force in Asian women's football over the past 30 years but have been in a largely downward spiral since placing second in the 1999 World Cup.

After seven consecutive Asian titles from 1986, North Korea wrenched the Cup away from them in 2001 and defended it in 2003 before China re-captured their continental glory in Adelaide two years ago, beating Australia in the final.

The Chinese go into this edition in Ho Chi Minh City on the back of a disastrous East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) campaign in February that resulted in French coach Elisabeth Loisel being sacked.

Shang Ruihua was installed to “clean up the mess” and having set a target of making the semi-finals at the home Olympics in Beijing in August, he badly wants to win this tournament.

But he knows it will not be easy.

“Many Asian women's teams are very different from four or five years ago,” he said yesterday.

“They have improved a lot and some are already above our level and it will be a good time to learn from them. I hope the whole team benefits from the women's Asian Cup so that we can do even better at home in the Olympics.”

They open their bid for a ninth title against hosts Vietnam today with subsequent group games against Thailand and North Korea, who have much to prove after a turbulent defeat in the semi-finals in Adelaide in 2006.

The game was best remembered for three North Korean women players being slapped with a worldwide ban by FIFA for attacking the referee.

In the other group here, Japan, who defeated China, North Korea and South Korea to clinch the EAFF title this year, play South Korea tomorrow before facing off against Australia and Taiwan. – AFP