China’s women outperform Fifa ranking to finish third at AFC Asian Cup with victory over Thailand
Li Ying opens the scoring to earn golden boot in Jordan as Japan beat Australia 1-0 in the final
China’s women finished their AFC Women’s Asian Cup in style by beating Thailand 3-1 in the third-place play-off in Amman, Jordan, on Friday night.
Later Japan beat Australia in the final, triumphing 1-0 thanks to a late strike from Kuki Yokoyama, while Mana Iwabuchi was named tournament MVP.
It was Japan who had beaten China in the semi-final, their 3-1 win the only loss for the Steel Roses during their five games in Jordan.
Three second-half goals from Li Ying, Wang Shanshan and Song Duan secured victory.
China’s Li finished as the tournament’s top scorer. The 25-year-old finished with seven goals, including the opener in Friday’s win which meant she scored in each of China’s five games.
“As a striker, it is my responsibility to score, and I am delighted to have been able to help the team, but it is a team effort and my teammates have helped me throughout,” she told the AFC.com.
“There are no secrets behind what I have done as it is my job to score goals. I believe I have worked extremely hard in training and I think that has paid off during this tournament,” she said after being given the golden boot.
“Having scored seven goals, a total which includes two penalties, will certainly give me added confidence going forward, but I believe I still have work to in order to improve.”
Li, who plays for Shandong in the Chinese Women’s Super League, told Fifa.com that her next target is to score at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France after failing to get off the mark at the last edition in Canada in 2015.
China’s Song Duan and Wang Shuang scored four goals each to tie for second with Japan’s Kuki and Kanjana Sung-Ngoen of Thailand.
China manager Siggi Eyjolfsson was upbeat about his team’s performance in Jordan. “Overall, we have had five games and four wins, so it has been a very good tournament for us and we are delighted to go back having finished third,” he said after the game.
“We want more, so we have some work ahead of us. We want to get closer to the top teams in Asia which will take some time, but we aim to get there.”
The Icelander had told Fifa.com in January that his goals for the team were to qualify for the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup in France, which they did in Jordan, and to move up the Fifa rankings, which will surely happen at the next update, putting his side in good stead for his final goal of being competitive at the 2020 Tokyo OIympics.
The former Jiangsu Suning manager made the step up from the Chinese Women’s Super League to the national team last November when he replaced Bruno Bini.
The Steel Roses are ranked fifth in Asia on the Fifa standings behind Australia, North Korea, Japan and South Korea. They were last updated on March 23.