Reporter Wang Wei reports On the evening of November 1st, China women’s football team ushered in the second stage of the Paris Olympic preliminaries in Xiamen. The 1-1 result resulted in neither China nor South Korea qualifying. This is also the second time that China women’s football team missed the final stage of the Olympic Games after missing the 2012 London Olympic Games. After the game, China women’s football team Wang Shanshan, Dou Jiaxing and other players shed tears on the court. Without the Paris Olympic Games, China women’s football team failed to achieve their goals in the 2023 Women’s World Cup, Hangzhou Asian Games and Paris Olympic preliminaries.
Before the battle of life and death, the AFC held the 2022 annual award ceremony, and Shui Qingxia won the title of the best women’s football coach in 2022-in recognition of her leading the team to win the 2022 women’s Asian Cup. But this honor is more like an invisible pressure for the women’s football team in China, last stand in the final round of the group stage. In addition, before the match, the Filipino women’s football team ranked second in Group A had already scored 6 points. On the evening of November 1st, the confrontation between Chinese and Korean women’s football teams became a "life-and-death battle". No matter whether it was the China women’s football team with 3 points or the Korean women’s football team with 4 points, only the winner had a chance to advance.
In this game, Shui Qingxia used Liu Yanqiu as the right avant-garde in the starting lineup, which is a big change. However, Yan Jinjin, who scored in both games before the Olympic preliminaries, was put on the bench. Obviously, Shui Qingxia still wanted to leave the back hand at the end.
In the first half, there were not many opportunities for the two teams. Uyghur Gumula once scored a goal for the China women’s football team, but Wu Chengshu’s offside goal was invalid. On the other hand, South Korean women’s football relies more on the 16-year-old mixed-race teenager Cathy Fair to make a killing in the frontcourt. Her breakthrough in the first half of stoppage time created a killing for veteran Chi Xiaoran, who surprised the China women’s football team with a cold sweat when she hit the post.
In the second half, it was still the Korean women’s football team that took the lead in rewriting the score. In the 61st minute, they took advantage of the free kick and Chi Xiaoran assisted Shen Yi to grab the header and then broke the deadlock. China women’s football team was forced to die. It wasn’t until the 70th minute that Shui Qingxia finally took a chance and put on Wang Linlin, the central defender, and pushed the captain Wang Shanshan to the front line. The change was immediate. In the 78th minute, China women’s football team used a free kick to equalize the score. Yan Jinjin passed the ball into the penalty area and Wang Shanshan headed the ball to score a beautiful goal.
However, the score of 1-1 was not enough for both China and South China. In the 84th minute, the women’s football team made a beautiful left-wing counterattack, and Yan Jinjin received a pass from her teammates on the right to form a single-handed trend. Unfortunately, her final shot missed the post. In the end, after five minutes of stoppage time, the China women’s football team and the Korean women’s football team drew 1-1, and both teams missed the third stage of the Paris Olympic preliminaries. Japan, Australia, North Korea and Uzbekistan (the best group is second) entered the third stage of the competition, and they will compete for the last two tickets to the Paris Olympic Games.
For China women’s football team, there are three major events this year, among which the first event failed to qualify for the Women’s World Cup group match, setting the worst result in the history of China women’s football team participating in the World Cup; Hangzhou Asian Games only won the bronze medal when Japanese women’s football team and Korean women’s football team didn’t send the strongest team to participate, which didn’t meet the expectations of the outside world. This time, the exit from the Paris Olympic preliminaries failed to extend the hope to the third stage-three sap notes, which means that China women’s football team failed to achieve the expected goals in all three major competitions this year.
The elimination of the Paris Olympic preliminaries means that the China women’s football team will have no major competition to play in the next year or two. Shui Qingxia took over as the head coach of China women’s football team after the Tokyo Olympic Games, but now she has missed the Paris Olympic Games, and a complete cycle of leading this coaching team has ended.
In this Olympic preliminaries, China women’s football team did encounter many difficulties, including Shoupeng Wang’s injury and Tang Jiali’s failure to return to the team, and Zhang Linyan’s state failed to reach the best because of some injuries. Another player studying abroad, Wu Chengshu, missed the match against Thailand because of a fever, and Li Mengwen failed to register for the match against South Korea because of injury. Because of her poor record, some tactical arrangements and personnel arrangements of Shui Qingxia have naturally been questioned by some outside voices.
After the game, some media asked Shui Qingxia whether she would continue to lead the women’s football team in China. Shui Qingxia responded: "We didn’t achieve the original goal in terms of results alone, but more young people can get exercise through the game, and we can really see that China women’s football team can do better in terms of skills and tactics besides spirit, and we can find the right way in the process of failure in the future. This is ok. As for the future, I’m not sure now. In any case, I hope that the women’s football team in China will get better and better. I hope that these girls will really enjoy the happiness brought by football on the football field and hope that they will get better and better in the future. "
After the game, Shui Qingxia talked about the preparation of the team and the topic of players studying abroad. "After training in Xiamen, I learned that overseas players came back late. I am still worried about their physical fitness, including recovery and jet lag. I will play the game two days after returning. There must be many people asking, since you have so many worries, why did you call them back? China Football Association has been encouraging more young players to go out, not just to go out, hoping that more players will gain experience and serve the motherland in the future. Personally, I am very supportive from the beginning to the present. I hope that our players will go out and see the outside world, what advantages and shortcomings they have, and see how football is played in European countries. " Shui Qingxia said.
Shui Qingxia also took the initiative to talk about Tang Jiali, who was not selected for the national team this time. "I have always supported studying abroad. Maybe many people care about Tang Jiali’s problem. She is also one of the overseas players. She is a good player. We have been communicating before, including her trip from Shanghai to Spain, including her performance in the league. She is a very powerful player. I hope she can maintain a good competitive level through the Spanish league and have the opportunity to serve her motherland and return to the team."
China women’s football team failed in the World Cup, the Asian Games and the Paris Olympic preliminaries, which made the women’s football girls very sad. After the game, Shui Qingxia hugged each team member. Wang Shanshan, captain of the China women’s football team, shed tears on the field. "In fact, we played very well in today’s game. In the future, I hope more young people can get up and carry forward the spirit of women’s football in China and never give up."
"I’m sorry that I didn’t win today’s game, which means that I can’t enter the Olympic Games in the following games. The players performed very well in today’s game, including the fighting style. The players really tried their best in this game, and I am especially grateful to the players. " Shui Qingxia apologized after the Olympic preliminaries.
At the same time, she said: "From the heart, I am quite sad. I feel sorry for these girls, because everyone has been struggling since the beginning of this year, and the women’s football team in China has its highlights. We have also seen many technical and tactical gaps and deficiencies. In fact, we are trying to adjust and change every day. From now on, the change is not good enough or fast enough. Our team members also tried their best, and I am very grateful to my team members and thank my team. "
Throughout 2023, women’s football competitions in China have been held one after another. It can’t be said that the team doesn’t work hard, but the dilemma of weak foundation and unclear direction can’t be changed in a day or two. Regarding the future of China women’s football team, Shui Qingxia said after the game: "Everyone has seen the World Cup, the Asian Games and the Olympic preliminaries. In fact, there is a big gap between us, especially in youth training, which is an important direction for future development. We don’t have any big competitions in the next two years, but if we are soberly aware of the gaps and shortcomings and calm down to deal with some details, I think the China women’s football team will go in the right direction. "