China women’s national football team coach Jia Xiuquan explained why he was in tears after his team progressed to the knockout stage of the Women’s World Cup.
“Their fighting spirit moved me,” Jia said after China held firm to draw 0-0 with Spain in their final Group B match here on Monday, with both sides progressing to the knockout stage with the draw.
The Chinese side had to fend off waves of attacks from the Spaniards, who had 24 attempts on goal compared with just one from China over the 90 minutes.
Jia said he knew the pressure the players were under during the tournament.
“I was a player, so I know what was in their minds even if they didn’t say anything. We snatched one point against Spain which meant we still have a chance to face more world-class teams. My players defended hard and their mental persistence moved me,” he said.
“It may take generations to eventually form a strong team. Now we see the gap between us and the world-class teams. We need to put in 200 percent and we need to do it in a concerted way,” he added.
China finished third in Group B and will now take on the first-placed team from Group C or Group D. England are currently top of Group D, while Italy sit atop Group C at present.
According to Jia, the Chinese team will use the next few days to recuperate and make adjustments in preparation for the next round.
Jia also said he had a better understanding of their future path. “It’s an improvement that we followed our plan to play the match step-by-step under so much pressure. I have a clear understanding of our future aims, and we will conclude them after the tournament.”