China crowned women's Asian Cup
Updated: 2006-07-31 06:34 China came from behind to beat Australia on
penalties, winning their eighth AFC women's Asian Cup yesterday.
victory marks the nation's return to winning ways after semi-final and final
defeats to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 2001 and 2003.
|China's soccer players throw their coach Ma Liangxing up in the air
as they celebrate their win over Australia in their Women's Asian Cup
final soccer match in Adelaide July 30, 2006. [Reuters]
With a fast attacking flow in the second half, China came from behind to
neutralize a two-goal deficit through Han Duan (68) and Ma Xiaoxu (73), who was
named Most Valuable Player, forcing the match into extra-time after Caitlin
Munoz had scored the first goal for Tom Sermanni's side on 28 minutes and Peters
made it 2-0 on 33 minutes.
China replaced goalkeepers with Zhang Yanru coming off the substitutes' bench
at the end of extra time, displacing starting goalkeeper Han Wenxia.
The substitution proved decisive with Zhang saving two penalties from
Collette McCallum and Joanne Peters while China converted all their attempts to
win 4-2 on penalties.
"I am so excited to be a part of the success like this," said Zhang. "I can
feel the support from my team-mates and coaches. It's a hard-gained win for all
of us and this is what we've been expecting for many years."
Head coach Ma Liangxing echoed Zhang's words, saying the long-awaited trophy
would inspire the players of the future.
"I can't believe we came back from two goals down but I never lost confidence
in my players," he said. "This victory will be very important in increasing the
confidence of my players. It will be very positive in the long run."
Australia won the last penalty shoot-out between the two countries, 5-4 in
Shanghai in 2000.
Before the final, Australia had played China 26 times coming away as the
losing side 16 times, with seven games ending in a draw. The last two clashes
between the two, as recently as last month, ended in China's favour.
Australia, playing in their first Asian Cup final since joining the Asian
confederation on January 1, looked on target to win the tournament with
first-half goals through when Caitlin Munoz (29th minute) and Peters (33rd
China as hosts and finalists and Australia have already booked their berths
in next year's FIFA World Cup with the DPRK joining them after beating Japan 3-2
in the play-off for third place earlier yesterday.