Women’s World Cup 2023 team guides: China
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It will be tough for the Asian champions to get out of a group that includes England and Denmark

As the tournament expanded to 32 teams, China found their qualification path smoothed considerably with at least five places available in the Asian Football Confederation (especially with Australia qualifying as hosts). As a result of their 3-1 victory over Vietnam in the quarterfinals of the 2022 AFC Asian Cup, the Steel Roses secured their place in the final.

Against Japan, the defending champions, in the semi-finals, and against South Korea in the final, China’s momentum remained unbroken. Under Shui Qingxia’s guidance, China are poised to embark on their World Cup journey seventeen months later.

It is easy for Shui to adapt his tactics. When China played against Japan and South Korea, it displayed a very different style of play than when it played against Iran or Vietnam. The captain, Wang Shanshan, a veteran who alternates between striker and center-back, symbolizes the flexibility of the team.

Denmark, Haiti, and England represent a new level of challenge for them in Group D. “Europe has been at the forefront of women’s football development for many years.” “Europe is far ahead of us,” Shui said during China’s European tour in April.

Even though China won the Asian Cup unexpectedly, partially because of their strong mentality, but also because of some luck, it does not indicate that they have returned to the top of women’s football. Neither does it mean that China has outclassed Japan and South Korea in Asia. Five months after winning the Asian Cup, they faced those two longstanding foes in the EAFF E-1 Football Championship. Despite two draws, China’s opponents dominated the matches, especially against Japan, who were missing some of their best players.

When the Netherlands defeat England or Denmark 8-2 in the Tokyo Olympics, the glory of yesteryear could become today’s disgrace. The challenges that lie ahead are well known to Shui. “We understand the difficulties without complaining,” she said.

Form of Wang Shuang is vital for China

Star player

Wang Shuang remains China’s top performer, as he was four years ago. In addition to his ability to play as an attacking midfielder or a second striker, the 28-year-old remains a pre-eminent virtuoso. As the most skilful player in Chinese women’s football, Wang was China’s only highlight at the disappointing Tokyo Olympics. Due to injury, she made little impact at the Asian Cup, but her resolve still inspired others. “I asked her if she could play before the final, and she said yes without hesitation,” said Shui. Chinese women’s football is the epitome of the spirit of the game.”

Rising star

When Zhang Linyan was an Evergrande academy student ten years ago, she said she hoped to help China women’s team surpass Sun Wen’s golden generation. Zhang, who was named the Swiss Women’s Super League player of the year last season, will make her World Cup debut at the age of 22. Despite standing only 5ft (1.52m) tall, the attacking midfielder has adapted well to European football’s physical demands. Her presence was strong both offensively and defensively, according to Shui.