Montpellier: Jia Xiuquan is unsure if he will remain in charge of China PR, after they were beaten in the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 Round of 16 by Italy on Tuesday.
The Steel Roses performed better then the 2-0 scoreline might have suggested at Stade de la Mosson, but an inability to convert scoring opportunities remained their Achilles heel as they were eliminated from the competition having scored just one goal in four matches.
Jia steered China through a difficult group featuring Germany, Spain and South Africa, but their exit in the first knockout round is the nation’s worst FIFA Women’s World Cup result when appearing at the Finals.
Speaking post-match, the experienced head coach said he has not made a firm decision on whether he would like to continue in the role.
“I haven’t had time to think about this,” he said, “I love the girls, but I haven’t had time to think about this yet. “
“This is another exciting chapter in my life and in my career. I have led the Chinese team in the World Cup, and this is exactly the same with men’s football. I have participated in all kinds of tournaments. This is a huge opportunity, and a valuable lesson in my career. It’s also brutal."
“After the draw everybody said it was a group of death, and I thought maybe we were destined to be eliminated, but we have showcased our spirit and our style. I have a lot of regrets, because this was our best chance of the reaching the quarter-finals, but we couldn’t grasp our chance.
“I had led all sorts of teams. The Olympic team, clubs, the women’s team. Maybe it’s time for me to take a break. I have learned a lot as the coach of this team and it’s been a great opportunity to improve myself, but this is not only my achievement, it is the achievement of generations of coaches.”
The match in Montpellier followed a distinct pattern. Italy scored early in each half, with Valentina Giacinti and Aurora Galli, finding the net before China largely controlled the remainder of each period without making it count in the final third.
Jis said the intense glow of playing on the world stage brought his side’s characteristics, both positive and negative, to light.
“We’ve done a good job. We need to do much better. We couldn’t win the game and I apologise to all the Chinese fans. We understood Italy very well and it was a good game,” he reflected.
“This is football. Whoever makes mistakes first, has to pay. The World Cup is a big stage and it makes us realise our shortcomings. We can’t dwell on the past or any past glories.
“We are pretty good in terms of our skills and our tactics, but things like mentality and psychology are also important in the game Our girls have given their best and we are fully aware of our potential. We will do a good summary after we go home."
The road to Lyon continues...#FIFAWWC pic.twitter.com/BvAQPGWkkE
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) June 25, 2019
While Asia is without a quarter-final representative for the first time in Women’s World Cup history, Italy are emblematic of a stunning tournament by the national teams of Europe, who account for a record seven of the eight remaining teams.
Jia believes it is paramount that the drivers of Europe’s success at France 2019 are reviewed and absorbed.
“There’s a lot we can learn from the European teams,” he declared.
“How do we recruit talent and how do we train? These are things we need to consider, and things we need to learn. This requires hard work from generations of coaches.
“When you look at Italy, they may have a rough skill, but they still have skills. There’s a lot to learn from European teams.”