On 6 February, China beat South Korea 3-2 in the final of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, with China being once again the champion after 16 years’ waiting.
The final victory was achieved by overturning a 2-0 half-time deficit, marking the 9th title for China women’s national football team on the Asian stage and an entertaining second-half display. This trophy was followed by a humiliating loss of China men’s national football team to Vietnam at the third round of World Cup Qualifiers, showing the stark contrast inability of both national teams.
The trophy seemed as if it would be heading home with the Koreans when they finished the first half with a two-goal lead. However, the Steel Roses produced a stunning second half with the same spirit they beat Japan, with a penalty shootout in the semi-final.
The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder, Tang Jiali, scored the penalty goal after South Korea’s Lee Young-ju committed a foul inside the 18-yard box in 68 minutes. Three minutes after the first goal, Zhang Linyan levelled the scores with a header sent from Tang. Xiao Yuyi scored the critical goal three minutes into injury time and helped the China women’s national football team reclaim the Asian Crown.
China’s national football team has long been seen as an underdog: the men’s football team has been criticised for years due to poor performances in major competitions and the women’s football team also had a hard time recovering from the losses in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games with a 0-5 to Brazil and a 2-8 to Netherland.
There was a lot of chaos around the losses last year, including some major players who were not on the list to play in the Tokyo Olympics and the wrong decision made by the previous coach, Jia Xiuquan. Three months before the long-expected win, the women’s football team welcomed the new coach Shui Qingxia, who has won five trophies as a then player and has continued that success into the management role.
As a member of the “Golden Generation” for China women’s football team in the last century, Shui led the girls to embark on continuing the glory of women’s football in China.
The tough win from the Steel Roses has once again restored the hope of the Chinese people. The topic of China women’s football winning the Women’s Asian Cup has reached 1.4 billion views, with more than 393,000 discussion posts on Weibo (Chinese microblogging platform).
“You can always depend on China women’s football team to bring back the national glory.”People commented on Weibo
It is said that the women’s football team will be awarded around 13 million RMB ($2 million) and they have won the adoration of the Chinese people.