The Chinese women’s football players grew and became more mature after they went through unexpected quarantine and hardships to play an inspiring Olympic qualification campaign, said Jia Xiuquan, head coach, China women’s national football team.
Jia said he found that his players became more focused and determined after coming back from Australia, where they played three 2020 Olympic qualification group matches to qualify for the playoffs against South Korea, reports Xinhua news agency.
“It seemed they grew up a lot overnight,” he was quoted as saying by Chinese Central Television sports channel on Sunday.
“What we experienced in Australia, including the special quarantine, the matches, and various troubles and setbacks we encountered, have made the players realize that they are capable of overcoming any problem so long as they stay united, purposeful, and determined,” he said.
The Chinese side, on their arrival in Brisbane, Australia on January 29, was put under quarantine until February 5 when a letter from the local health authority cleared them, leaving them only one day to fly to Sydney and prepare for their first group match against Thailand.
After they beat Thailand 6-1, Jia complained that his team did not have an international standard field for training for almost ten days due to the unexpected quarantine and flights.
“My players were not sharp at controlling the ball during the match. How could they be sharp after almost ten days without touching a ball?” he said then.
A video showed that the Chinese players when quarantined worked out in the corridors of their hotel.
Tang Jiali, who scored a spectacular goal in China’s 1-1 draw with Australia, revealed last week that the elevator of their hotel in Sydney acted up, and the hotel did not provide hot water to the team for three days, making life harder for them.
Jia expected his players to draw on what they had been through in Australia and become more robust.
“I hope they can learn to deal with whatever is thrown to them with enough presence of mind,” he said.
The Chinese, who beat Chinese Taipei 5-0 in their second group game, flew back to China on March 6 after a 37-day stay in Australia.
They are training in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou in preparation for the two-legged playoffs against South Korea, which are slated for June 4 and 9.