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Women's Asian Cup: China start campaign with comprehensive win

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Mumbai, Jan 20 (IANS) Eight-time champions China started their campaign in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 on a rousing note, beating Chinese Taipei 4-0 in their opening match at the Mumbai Football Arena here on Thursday.

Wang Shuang struck a brace of goals and also made two assists while Wang Shanshan and Zhang Xin contributed a goal each in Shui Qingxia’s first game as head coach,

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It was a comprehensive win for the Chinese women’s team in a competition that they won last in 2006 and finished runners-up in the previous two editions in 2014 and 2018. China are the highest ranked team in Group A, in which the other teams are India and Iran, and started their campaign in befitting style, though the margin could have been bigger if they had made better use of their dominance. China enjoyed 77 percent possession, had nine shots on target as compared to three by their opponents.

China had entered the match on a nine-match unbeaten streak in Group phase in women’s Asian Cup and they maintained that record with another victory.

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Playing their first international match since July 2020, the Steel Roses made a brisk start, scoring twice in the first 10 minutes to leave the Chinese Taipei team shell shocked and all but extinguish their rivals’ hopes of an upset in their first appearance at the Finals since 2008.

The eight-time champions won a penalty within 90 seconds after youngster Zhang Linyan was fouled by Pan Yen-Hsin. Wang Shuang stepped up to the spot and eased the ball home to score the first goal of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 within three minutes of its start.

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Wang Shanshan doubled China’s advantage when she registered her 53rd international goal in the ninth minute of the match, rising high to head home Gao Chen’s cross with the help of the upright.

While Kazuo Echigo’s Chinese Taipei, three-time winners of the Asian Cup, improved defensively as the first half went on China’s dominance was reflected in their 78 per cent possession at the interval.

They went further ahead in the 54th minute when Zhang Xin received Wang Shuang’s pass and coolly stroked the ball beyond Cheng Ssu-Yu in the Chinese Taipei goal to make it 3-0.

Wang Shuang showed her class again in the 68th minute, wrong-footing the Chinese Taipei defence with a neat turn before slamming home her second goal of the afternoon.

The outstanding Wang nearly created another goal when she found Li Ying with a defence-splitting pass in the 76th minute, only for the substitute to cannon it into the upright. They were also denied by Chinese Taipei goalkeeper Cheng, who pulled off a fine save to thwart the newly introduced Tang Jiali from adding a fifth goal around the 80th minute.

Though China won the match easily they will have to pull up their socks because they will not get so many chances against stronger opponents in the events. Considering this was their first match, coach Shui Qingxia is bound to give them some leeway but they need to be sharper in their upcoming matches if they have to win their ninth title.

They will next play Iran on January 23 while Chinese Taipei take on hosts India later on the same day.

–IANS

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