Dim Olympic hope for China after loss to Aussie
Updated: 2011-09-08 22:45
JINAN - China sufferd a heavy blow as a 1-0 loss to Australia here on Thursday almost killed their hope of booking a ticket to the London Olmypic Games women's soccer finals.
Players of Chinese women's soccer team walk off the court after losing the game to their Australia opponents in women's qualifying tournament for the 2012 Olympic Games in Jinan, Shandong province, September 8, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]
Australian midfielder Emily Van Egmond's 61-min volley following a chaos in the box after a corner broke the deadlock and made the hosts only keep theoretical possibility of qualifying for the 2012 Games.
China now sits at the fourth place with 5 points, 5 points behind leaders Japan and 3 below second-placed DPR Korea. Which means only if China beat Japan by large margin at the final game, and meanwhile DPR Korea lost to a Thailand, and at the same time Australia couldn't defeat South Korea to get 9 points, that the hosts can take a berth at London Games.
Otherwise the "Steel Roses" will fail to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in 15 years since the 1996 Atlanta Games, when women's soccer made its debut at the Olympics. Adding China's first bye to the Women's World Cup finals since 1991 after the Asian Cup last year, the "Steel Roses" need more time to recover from the poor situation.
"We have tried our best, but at last we completely lost the chance to qualify for London Olympics," said Chinese head coach Li Xiaopeng, who declared his resignation after the game.
"This is the last game for me as the coach, I have prepared for the result before the match. I have to take the responsibility."
Li lamented for the bad finishing of the players: "The team is not mature, we created some chances in the beginning, but couldn't catch them."
China used a 442 formation with Xu Yuan and You Jia formed the striking pair, while the Matildas left major forwards Sarah Waslsh and Lisa De Vanna on the bench.
The first half was very physical and tensive as both teams fought hard in the midfield, but created little chance on goal. Xu Yuan's low shot at the edge of the box was denied by Lydia Williams in the 42nd minute, before Australia had two dangerous drives to threaten the hosts.
Li Xiaopeng brought on Han Duan and long injured striker Ma Xiaoxu in the second half to form a three-pronged front line, with a view to scoring, but their attacks were in disorder and had no effect facing a solid Australian defence.
"We have tried to use four forwards in special situation before in the friendly against New Zealand, but tonight it's not effective," said Li.
China will play World Champions Japan on September 11 in the last game at the tournament. Japan has already qualified. DPR Korea has big advantage in the competition with Australia and China: a draw with Thailand could simply send them through to London.