Osaka: China coach Bruno Bini believes an injury-time penalty in his side’s second match at the AFC Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016 qualifiers was the catalyst that set them on course for this summer’s Olympic Games.
The Steel Roses stamped their ticket to Rio on Monday after they beat Korea Republic 1-0 and fellow qualifiers Australia downed DPR Korea 2-1, leaving the pair to battle it out for top spot in the final day of matches on Wednesday.
But Bini was in no doubt that Wang Shuang’s 93rd-minute spot-kick to tie the March 2 game at 1-1 against DPR Korea was when the tide turned in China’s favour at the competition.
“The biggest thing was the match against DPR Korea, because we equalised in the last minute,” the Frenchman said.
“If we hadn’t made it 1-1 at the end of that match then we maybe wouldn’t have been able to win against Japan in the next game.
“Since the beginning of January, when we started our training camp, we’ve not had one injury. If we’d had one or two players injured then maybe it wouldn’t have been possible to achieve this result – perhaps this is also part of the success.
“We work hard together. We have fantastic players and they live and work together very well.”
The 61-year-old refused to state any concrete targets at the Olympic Games themselves, preferring to wait and see which sides they will be squaring off against.
“First we have to see the group,” he said. “Our FIFA ranking is still 17th, and although in my heart China is the best team, unfortunately the ranking in my heart is not the FIFA ranking.
“The 20 players might not be the best 20 players in China, but the team as a whole is the best.”
One thing Bini did promise was that the team would stay true to its style in Brazil, and demonstrate ‘Chinese football’ in the nation that many see as the spiritual home of the beautiful game.
“’Chinese football’ is what you saw in the match against Japan,” he said. “Playing tactically works very well for us, and technique is also a part of my philosophy.”
Before that there are still points to be won in Osaka, though.
“If we were to lose by a lot of goals then it would take some of the gloss off the achievement of qualifying, so we still care about the result of the next match.”
Photo: Lagardère Sports