China’s women’s national team begin their 2014 Asian Cup campaign against Thailand on Thursday evening in what will be coach Hao Wei’s final chance to see his players in tournament action ahead of next year’s World Cup.
Reigning world champions Japan head the field in Ho Chi Minh City, however with five of the eight sides competing having qualified for next year’s competition in Canada, the quality of opponent cannot be underestimated.
China will be without recently retired Pu Wei for the first time since 1999, since when she was a major feature of the national side. Also among those absent are injured playmaker Wang Lisi and teenage star Wang Shuang, both of whom would likely have been among the squad.
Hao, though, can call upon a group of players who have started to come together well as a team over the past 12 months, with new captain Wu Haiyan a standout figure alongside powerful forward Li Ying and former teenage star Ma Xiaoxu.
Currently ranked 16th in the world, China enjoyed a positive recent showing at the Algarve Cup and also in winning a four nation tournament including North Korea, Mexico and New Zealand.
China last won the tournament in 2006, but there are real hopes of a positive showing this time around starting against Thailand on Thursday evening. In the group stage, they will also encounter Myanmar and South Korea in a bid to earn a semifinal place.
All games will be shown live on CCTV5.
Goalkeepers: Zhang Yue, Chi Xiaohui.
Defenders: Liu Shanshan, Wang Lingling, Li Jiayue, Wu Haiyan, Li Dongna,Wang Yun.
Midfielders: Xu Yanlu, Huang Yini, Li Xianglin, Wang Chen, Zhang Xin, Han Peng, Zhou Feifei, Zhang Rui, Wang Shanshan, Ren Guixin.
Forwards: Lou Jiahui, Li Ying, Yang Li, Gao Qi, Gu Yasha, Zhao Rong, Ma Xiaoxu.
Predicted XI vs. Thailand (4-4-2): Zhang Yue; Liu Shanshan, Li Dongna, Wu Haiyan, Wang Lingling; Wang Shanshan, Ren Guixin, Zhang Rui, Zhang Xin; Li Ying, Yang Li.
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