In the world of women’s soccer, the stakes couldn’t be higher as the Chinese women’s national soccer team prepares to battle formidable opponents in the second-stage qualifiers for the Paris Olympics. Playing on their home turf in Xiamen, located in East China’s Fujian Province, the team’s determination is palpable. The date is set for October 26, and the atmosphere is thick with anticipation.
A daunting challenge lies ahead. The Chinese women’s team finds itself in what many have termed the “group of death.” Here, they will face soccer giants North Korea, South Korea, and Thailand. But if history has shown us anything, it’s that the Chinese team thrives under pressure.
Head coach Shui Qingxia, who has been instrumental in guiding the team, voiced her confidence and resolve. She remarked, “We will unite as a team and give our best efforts to perform well in this competition.”
For the Chinese women’s national soccer team, 2023 is a year etched with formidable challenges. They have showcased their prowess in three major tournaments: the World Cup, the Asian Games, and now, the Olympic qualifiers. The Paris Olympics qualifiers present an exceptional hurdle; the route to the next round is grueling, with only the group winners and the best second-place team across the three groups advancing. The challenge is further magnified when considering China’s previous performance at the Asian Games, where they secured a bronze medal after a surprising loss to a younger Japanese team.
Being hosts for this stage of the Olympic qualifiers, the weight of expectation on the team is considerable. The primary goal? A spot in the next round. Coach Shui acknowledges the might of the opposition, emphasizing their readiness both in terms of skill and mindset.
Post the Asian Games, the team had a brief recuperation period before reconvening in Xiamen on October 11. As they readied for the Olympic qualifiers, the squad saw the staggered arrival of overseas-based players due to their club commitments. Speaking about the situation, Coach Shui noted that while overseas players face the challenge of limited bonding time, their active participation in club matches ensures their form remains impeccable.
One significant setback for the team is the absence of star player Wang Shuang due to injury. However, silver linings emerge in the form of rising talents. Players like Zhang Linyan, Shen Mengyu, Shen Menglu, Tu Linli, and Wang Yanwen, who has made a commendable return post-injury, have been named. In fact, the average age of the team has dropped, highlighting a strategic shift towards cultivating younger talent. This new breed of players, like Zhang who recently debuted with a goal for Tottenham Hotspur, represents a bright future for Chinese women’s soccer.
With the Paris Olympic qualifiers on the horizon, Coach Shui’s hope is for the younger players to harness their youthful vigor and outshine their predecessors.