Sydney, Feb 10 (IANS) China will clash with hosts Australia on Thursday in their final group match to decide which side will finish atop Group B in the Asian women’s Olympic football qualification tournament.
China and Australia, both having two wins from as many matches, have qualified for the final round playoffs, where the top two finishers of Group A and Group B will face the runners-up of the other group over two legs on a home and away basis in March, reports Xinhua news agency.
Jia Xiuquan, head coach of China, said his players will try to cope with Australia, which he called a very strong team in its own way.
“We had trained for some time in Australia before. We are getting used to their playing style,” he said.
Jia said his side’s 5-0 win over Chinese Taipei on Monday not only secured them a spot in the playoffs, but also won a breather for them. “We have been through a lot of troubles in our preparation for the Olympic qualification… My players are not in the best of forms,” he said.
“The most important thing for us is we won the match and qualified for the playoffs, and that also won us the time to adjust ourselves,” he added.
China were put in quarantine on their arrival in Brisbane until February 5 when a letter from the local health authority cleared them, leaving them only one day to fly to Sydney and prepare for their first group match against Thailand which they 6-1.
The matches in Group B have been rescheduled twice due to the quarantine of the Chinese team amid coronavirus scare. Those matches were originally set to take place in Wuhan, China from February 3 to 9. But due to the outbreak of coronavirus in the city, the fixtures were moved to China’s eastern city of Nanjing, before being moved again to Sydney.
Four Chinese players, including former Paris Saint-Germain striker Wang Shuang, were stranded back in Wuhan amid virus control concerns.
If Wuhan remains locked down next month when China play in the playoffs, there will be no way for the 25-year-old player to leave the city and return to the national team, a Chinese Football Association (CFA) source said.
South Korea finished first followed by Vietnam in Group A, which also featured Myanmar.