Gold Coast (Australia), Dec 24 (IANS) “The more I know about women’s football, the greater pressure I could feel,” says Jia Xiuquan, head coach of the Chinese women’s football team.
Jia, 55, was captain of China’s football team during his playing days. He was also among the earliest Chinese footballers to play in overseas clubs.
Now he has a new task: to bring the women’s football team as far as possible in the World Cup in France next year.
“Development of women’s football across the world is really fast,” Jia was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.
“I have worked as coach for half a year. By studying our opponents, we feel that we are not among the best of teams. I am grateful for the trust of the players and their devotion,” he said.
“We prepared for the Asian Games in Dalian in northeast China’s Liaoning province, when it was very hot. We had training under the scorching sun, and ended every day at dusk. After many days the players were tanned so seriously that even their acquaintances could hardly recognize them,” he explained.
The Chinese women football team is now ranked fifth in Asia, and 15th in the world.
While in Australia, the players train both in the morning and in the afternoon, and are scheduled to play ten matches against local clubs.
“Chinese women’s football has good tradition and its own characteristics. So we should believe in ourselves,” said the coach.
For next year’s World Cup, the Chinese team has been placed in Group B, along with South Africa, two-time world champion Germany and rising contender Spain.
Jia, who was at the draw ceremony early this month, said he didn’t believe they would be better off if switched to other groups, because no matter which group they are in, they will have to face one of the top six teams of the world. So they should only improve themselves.
“How should we prepare? What tactics should we use? With only half a year left, how can we shorten the distance with top teams like Germany? These are all what we would like to find out in Australia. We must know our advantages and disadvantages and find out with our players and staff the way to confront Germany,” he said.