China's Steel Roses wow the fans at the World Cup
(Wang Shanshan 12)
China's "Steel Roses'' are making the fans go gaga over them.
They marked their return to the elite of world football yesterday morning with a 1-0 win over Cameroon and earned a ticket to the quarter-finals of the Women's World Cup.
A first-half goal from defender-turned-forward Wang Shanshan set up a meeting with either the United States or Colombia in the final eight on Saturday.
It also sent Africa's last remaining team crashing out of the tournament.
Coach Hao Wei had a touchline ban and watched from the stands as his team bravely fought in cold and wet conditions at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium.
But his side closed down the game early when Wang got the opener after 12 minutes when she picked up a pass from Li Dongna who did well to control a Wang Lisi corner.
"Today all the players were wonderful, they put on a spectacular performance, demonstrating amazing resilience and bravery," said assistant coach Chang Wei Wei.
"They fought like warriors for over 90 minutes. I want to thank them for their hard work."
China, runners-up in 1999, failed to qualify for Germany 2011 or the London Olympics the following year.
But the team have been revitalised since Hao was appointed coach soon after.
"Under the leadership of coach Hao we have witnessed tremendous improvement in the Chinese team over two or three years," said Chang.
"He has selected many young players who are energetic and enterprising. I think they can reach even higher goals in the future."
Cameroon coach Enow Ngachu, whose side were just the second from Africa to reach the knockout rounds after Nigeria in 1999, also paid tribute to the Roses.
"The Chinese deserved their victory. We can just say 'bravo'. Their team is very complete.
"They don't score many goals but they defend very well. We knew that if we conceded a goal it would be very difficult for us.
"If they can keep on like that they can create surprises." - AFP.