China coach Jia: The battle has just begun

The prospect of facing Spain next meant China coach Jia Xiuquan was not getting too carried away following a 1-0 win over South Africa.

Jia Xiuquan shakes hands with China's players after the contest on Thursday. Photo: Getty Images

Jia Xiuquan refused to get carried away after China's 1-0 win over South Africa at the Women's World Cup as he warned about the test Spain will pose in the crunch final group game.

Having lost to Germany in its opening match of the tournament, China claimed its first win on Thursday, though they were underwhelming against World Cup debutants South Africa and Li Ying's 40th-minute goal was all that separated the two teams.

China only registered three shots on target during the game, and two of those came in the final five minutes, with Jia seemingly unimpressed after the final whistle. "The victory belongs to all players, they deserve it," he told reporters at his news conference.

"But I think the battle has just begun and there will be tough games ahead. I hope to laugh at the very last moment."

 

The result meant Germany progressed, with Spain and China meeting in Le Havre on Monday to decide the other team that will finish in the top two. "Spain are a very strong team and they have a traditional style that is similar to the men's team," Jia added.

"Spain are stronger than we are, I think they will give us a better performance. I hope our players can unleash their potential in the last game and execute our plan."

South Africa coach Desiree Ellis said she hopes the spirit her players showed in defeat would be recognised. "We're hoping that the performance we gave is heartening for the people back home," she said.

"There's still a lot of room for improvement. What we want is to show the world we didn't just come to make up the numbers, that when the World Cup is over people remember this group of players."

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