Over the years, the China women’s football team has always been a strong and skilled team in the Asian region. As the team receiving a lot of achievements, they are expected by Asian people to make a significant impact at the Women’s World Cup 2023.
Source: Getty Image
Table of Contents
The Rise of Women’s Football in China
Women’s football has a long and interesting history in China. While football gained popularity around the world in the mid-1900s, it took some time for women’s football to find its place in China due to cultural and societal factors. Initially, traditional beliefs and stereotypes made it challenging for women to participate in the sport.
However, things started changing in the 1980s when China began to see the potential of women’s football. The country realized that it could be a platform to showcase their talented female athletes on the global stage. The Chinese government played a crucial role by providing support and resources to promote and develop women’s football at different levels.
Back In Time: AFC Women’s Asian Cup
For a long time, the China women’s football team hadn’t won a major championship. But last year, they finally reclaimed the AFC Women’s Asian Cup after waiting for over fifteen years. It was a big deal for a country that takes pride in its women’s football history.
On the evening of February 6, in an exciting final, the China women’s football team made an impressive comeback to defeat the South Korea women’s football team 3-2 and become the champions of the AFC Asian Cup Women’s 2022.
Before the final, the China women’s team aimed to win the championship for the first time since 2006. Meanwhile, the South Korea women’s team hoped to win their first-ever continental title.
In the first half, South Korea took the lead with a goal from Choe Yu-ri, thanks to a great pass from Lee Geum-min. Then, just before halftime, Ji So Yun scored a penalty, extending South Korea’s lead to 2-0.
In the second half, South Korea dominated the game, and the China team struggled to launch successful attacks. Many people thought South Korea would win. However, in the 67th minute, Tang Jiali scored a penalty, reducing the gap to 2-1 for China. Four minutes later, Tang Jiali made a fantastic play, setting up Zhang Linyan to score a header and equalize the score 2-2 for China.
When everyone expected the match to go into extra time, Xiao Yuyi scored a fantastic goal in the 90+3 minute, securing a victory for the China team and becoming the champions of the Asian Cup Women’s 2022. It was an incredible triumph for the China women’s football team, worth more than gold.
Source: China Daily
Efforts Paid Off
The Chinese Football Association rewarded their women’s team with a record-breaking prize of 1.57 million USD for winning the Asian Cup 2022.
This is the largest prize ever given to a women’s football team. Their triumph in India marked China’s return to the top of women’s football in Asia after 16 years. Having won the tournament nine times before, their previous Asian Cup victory was in 2006.
The women’s team’s victory is even more meaningful following the men’s team’s 1-3 defeat to Vietnam in the third round of Asian World Cup qualifiers on February 1. The loss, which coincided with the first day of the Lunar New Year, received criticism from the domestic public. The women’s team’s Asian Cup triumph on February 6 somewhat eased the disappointment for football fans.
In the Asian Cup 2022, China was placed in Group A alongside Iran, Chinese Taipei, and India. Due to India’s withdrawal due to the impact of Covid-19, they only played two group stage matches: a 4-0 victory over Chinese Taipei and a 7-0 victory over Iran.
In the quarterfinals, despite conceding an early goal, China made a comeback and defeated Vietnam 3-1. They then defeated the formidable opponent, Japan, 4-3 in a penalty shootout in the semifinals, after a 2-2 draw in 120 minutes. In this match, China was twice behind, but they managed to overcome the team that had won the Asian Cup in the past two editions: 2018 and 2014.
A Promising Journey
China is getting ready for the 2023 Women’s World Cup and has recently shared a long-term plan to boost women’s football. While the men’s football in the country has faced challenges and money problems, the women’s game looks more promising.
In the early 2010s, China hoped their men’s team would make it to the 2022 World Cup. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned, and many professional football clubs in China struggled with money.
Because of these issues, more and more Chinese football fans are turning their attention to women’s football. Recognizing this shift, the Chinese Football Association (CFA), along with the education and finance ministries and the General Administration of Sport of China, created a detailed plan to improve the women’s game.
The timing of this plan is important, as it was announced shortly after the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party, where Xi Jinping secured his third term as president. Xi Jinping loves football, so this plan holds extra significance.
The plan focuses on seven main areas, such as better training for young players, improving coaching quality, and strengthening the national team. The ultimate goal is for China to host the 2031 World Cup and become champions four years later.
On the other hand, men’s football has faced setbacks. Despite investments in grassroots development, the national team struggled, and financial troubles affected the Chinese Super League clubs. Some club owners had money problems, which led to less spending and top players leaving.
Tom Byer, a famous youth development coach, noticed the men’s team’s struggles and believes it’s a good idea for China to focus on women’s football instead. In contrast, the women’s team achieved success by winning the Asian Cup in February 2022, beating South Korea in an exciting final.
Source: Today Online
While the men missed out on the 2022 World Cup, the women are now preparing for the 2023 edition, which will be hosted by Australia and New Zealand. China’s women face a tough journey to reclaim their previous success, but they have a better chance compared to the men’s team.
The Chinese Football Association understands the potential rewards of supporting the women’s team, especially considering their past achievements. However, Europe has become dominant in women’s football, making it harder for China to reach the top again.
It remains to be seen whether the authorities in Beijing will continue to provide consistent support for women’s football. However, public support for equal financial backing for women’s football has been strong, reflecting a growing interest in the sport.
Goal for Women’s World Cup 2023
A strong performance in the 2023 World Cup could give China’s new plan a boost and help them achieve their goal of winning the 2035 World Cup. The immediate target is to reach the quarter-finals in the 2023 tournament, but they’ll face tough opponents like England, Denmark, and Haiti.
Since coach Shui Qingxia took over, there has been more unity and confidence within the team. They now play their own style of football and aim to showcase the spirit and tactics of Chinese women’s football on a higher level and bigger stage. Shui Qingxia is an experienced coach who previously represented China. She has been a role model and her influence brings resilience to the team. The player appreciates the spirit passed down from the older generation and emphasizes never giving up until the final whistle.
Shui Qingxia knows it won’t be easy, but she’s committed to preparing the team well and making the country proud. The journey has already begun, and China is determined to shine on the global stage of women’s football.
Wang Shanshan to FIFA: “It’s time for China to dream”
Having an interview with FIFA, Wang Shanshan – China PR’s captain and player of the year shared about her Asia Cup journey and her goal to World Cup 2023. Wang Shanshan was also an important player in China’s victory at AFC Asian Cup Women’s 2022.
The tall striker scored five goals, sometimes played in defense, and was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the Asian Cup. Last month, she also received the title of Chinese Women’s Footballer of the Year. These awards gave her a boost, especially since her career coincided with the team’s difficult years.
After the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup™, where she didn’t score in any matches, some doubted her abilities. However, now at 33 years old, she is China’s captain and key player for this year’s World Cup, coming off her most successful year in football.
With the World Cup approaching, she spoke to FIFA about her experiences and aspirations. She shared her excitement about playing in her first World Cup in 2015 and how it made her feel honored. She also mentioned that she has grown more mature since then.
Wang Shuang, another player of China’s women team, and Wang Shanshan make a perfect duo for the team. Playing alongside Wang Shuang has been enjoyable for Wang Shanshan thanks to their good understanding and communication on the field. They can anticipate each other’s movements and coordinate effectively. “The national football team is lucky to have both Wang Shuang and Wang Shanshan in the lineup,” exclaimed the fans.
Wang Shanshan believes it’s time for China to dream but also stresses the importance of taking it step by step. The team’s focus is on progressing out of the group stage, but they do not shy away from dreaming of playing in the final and winning the World Cup. Being champions of Asia adds pride and recognition for the Chinese women’s football team, but the whole team understand that it was in the past. They now face new challenges in the World Cup and acknowledge the difficulties they will encounter.
Source: The China Project
Together with Australia, Japan, Philippines, South Korea, and Vietnam, China will give their all in the upcoming Women’s World Cup to bring glory to the Asian region. Let’s look forward to the performance of this passionate team and their strong desire to succeed!