China’s coach admits his side are “far apart” from the elite, but has nevertheless told them to defy expectations at next month’s Women’s World Cup.
Jia Xiuquan’s team carry the hopes of a country all too used to seeing the men’s side disappoint on the international stage.
But, the Chinese women face a battle to reach the knockout stages in France with a tough group stage against former two-time champions Germany, Spain and South Africa.
“It’s me who said our aim was to reach the final of the Women’s World Cup,” Jia told the Xinhua news agency ahead of the team’s June 8 opener against Germany in Rennes.
“However, we might go even further and win the championship. Yes, I have not changed my mind if you ask me. This is the target I set for my squad,” the former coach of the national men’s under-19 side said.
“We know that we are far apart from the world elite women’s football and we’ve been working out (how) we can narrow the gap between the top squads and ourselves.”
Jia previously set his side, which are 16th in the FIFA world rankings, a minimum requirement of reaching the knockout rounds.
But he now says that he does not want them to aim so low.
“I want them first to dream big and then go all out to achieve the highest goal possible,” he said.