Tuesday 14 August 2018, 05:03

China’s new boss eyes transformation with Steel Roses

  • Jia Xiuquan among China PR's most successful local coaches

  • The new Steel Roses coach recently led team to Asian Games silver medal

  • 1999 Women's World Cup Finalists seek return to glory days at France 2019

Since the retirement of the golden generation following the highs of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup™, China PR have at times struggled to rebuild over the past decade and a half. A series of established coaches from both home and abroad have come and gone seeking a magic formula with the managerial baton now passed to Jia Xiuquan, who is tasked with reviving the Steel Roses’ former glory.

A former Chinese international, Jia is among the country's most successful home-grown managers having coached several top-division clubs as well as national youth teams. While the appointment came from left-field, with the role being his first in charge of a women's team, Jia sounded primed about the task at hand when speaking to FIFA.com.

"As a former soldier, it is my duties to take orders," said the 54-year-old who spent his early playing years with China's military club Bayi. "And as a former professional player and now a coach, I have been a beneficiary of China's football development. So I will never turn my back when I am needed."

Tactical innovations Indeed, following China's move towards professionalism in the early 1990's, Jia was a trail-blazer when he moved to Europe to join Partizan before leaving for Japan's Gamba Osaka. With that overseas experience under his belt, Jia soon turned to management enjoying spells in charge of the likes of Shanghai Shenhua and Henan Jianye. For him, vision is the key to achieve managerial success.

"We should look to the top-level teams if we are to compete against the world's best,” said Jia. “We need to notice how they play and what the global trend is. Besides the traditional powerhouses, some other European teams such as France and Netherlands, have emerged on the international stage. They both play with the tactics from which we should learn."

New tactics, however, are nothing without teamwork according to the coach. "We need to employ proper tactics to make sure the team is strong as unit. Every player is required to play with fighting spirit and show teamwork. They should understand the tactical approach and play as a unit. Of course, European and American players are physically stronger and technically better than us. So we will use our fast pace and fast responses to counter them."

Jia tested his tactics against USA in June during which China suffered two defeats. Despite the results, he was pleased with the team's performances. "We lost both games by the narrowest of margins. The American are one of the top teams in the world, but our players showed they can compete against them."

However, Steel Roses' supporters will be buoyed by the team's most recent results. Jia's side capped a strong Asian Games campaign by securing a silver medal last week as continental champions Japan edged a hard-fought 1-0 win in the final.

Russia 2018 inspiration While Jia is aiming to make a surprise impact at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France, it was the recent 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ which provided him with tactical inspirations as to how teams can compete against favorites and win.

"This World Cup was amazing with so many underdogs pulling off unexpected wins," he said. "But nearly all of them played with identical tactics: they had better teamwork and they were fast in switching between defence and attack. Mexico played superbly against Germany. They were always the first to the ball in defending and they were fierce on the counterattack."

With France 2019 kicking-off in less than a year's time, Jia is optimistic of preparing the team to the levels he requires. "We need confidence and patience as we are rebuilding. The veteran players are important for the team in providing experience for the youngsters. Meanwhile, our young players should work hard and improve fast because they shoulder great expectations."

"We will compete [at France 2019] with renewed spirit of the Steel Roses. The results will come naturally [if we play to our potential], be it reaching the last-eight or even last-four."