Mumbai: When it comes to rivalries in sports, one thinks of India vs Pakistan in cricket and hockey, Australia vs England in Ashes and Brazil vs Argentina in football. The China vs Chinese Taipei battle is also as fierce as any other contest.
So, there will be some nerves and pressure when China PR take on Chinese Taipei in the AFC Asian Cup India 2022 lung opener at the Mumbai Football Arena on Thursday.
However, when it comes to women’s football, China have dominated Chinese Taipei and have never lost only once to their neighbours in nine matches. Indeed, China have not lost a single match to India too and in Asian Cup have scored 32 goals against these two opponents while maintaining clean sheets in all seven matches.
The Chinese women’s football team, nicknamed The Steel Roses, is also unbeaten in nine league phase matches (7 wins, 2 draws) since 2008 — their last defeat in the league phase was to North Korea in their final group game in 2008.
In the last two editions of the Women’s Asian Cup in 2014 and 2018, China have lost to eventual champions Japan in the semifinals, finishing third eventually beating
Coached by former player Shui Qingxia, who was appointed as the head coach last November succeeding Jia Xiuquan, who parted away after a disastrous performance at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. China were beaten 5-0 by Brazil, drew 4-4 with Zambia and then lost 8-2 to the Netherlands in Japan, their worst
performance at a Summer Games.
Shui has reshaped the squad which now includes a mix of fresh talents and experienced players. With veterans such Li Ying, Lou Jiahui, Zhao Lina and Ma Jun, and Tottenham Spurs star Tang Jiali all back in the team, the Steel Roses aim to go further than the third-place finish in the last two editions.
“This is the first time for me to participate in the Women’s Asian Cup as a head coach. It is a great opportunity for me and my players. I believe that every team is here to do their best and every team will do their best on this platform of women’s football,” Shui told the media in virtual interaction.
Chinese Taipei coach Echigo Kazuo said they are well prepared and will be looking to do their best in every match of the Asian Cup. He has a rather inexperienced team at his disposal with only two players from the 2018 squad here in India.
Chinese Taipei along with North Korea are the second most successful team in the Women’s Asian Cup, having won three titles apiece. Chinese Taipei’s titles came in 1977, 1979, and 1981. Since then, they have finished second in 1999.
They will be hoping to beat India and Iran and finish second in Group A and hope for the best against arch-rivals China.