China have enjoyed a bit of a renaissance recently after a dismal performance at the Tokyo Olympics and may fancy their chances of causing a few upsets at the Women's World Cup.
The Steel Roses have made it out of the group stage on each occasion they have qualified for the showpiece, with their 1999 final defeat to the USA being their best performance, and confidence will be high after they won last season’s triumph in the Asian Cup.
China played host at the first Women’s World Cup in 1991 when they were beaten by Sweden in the quarter-finals, but they gained their revenge four years later when they beat the same opponents on penalties in their own backyard in the last eight.
Germany beat them in the semi-finals and they then lost to the USA in the third-place play-off.
They were superb in the 1999 tournament, beating Sweden, Ghana, Australia and Russia before thrashing Norway 5-0 in the semi-finals, although they were unable to complete the job as they fell to a penalty shootout defeat to the USA at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
China then fell in the last eight in 2003, 2007 and 2015, while their quest four years ago in France was underwhelming as they scraped through their group and fell to a 2-0 defeat to Italy in the last 16.
China booked their place after being one of the winning quarter-finalists at the Women’s Asian Cup last year. South Korea, Japan and the Philippines took their places in the finals via the same method.
However, that was only half the story of what happened in India as they went on to win the competition for the ninth time.
They defeated Japan on penalties in the last four and then claimed glory with an injury-time winner from Xiao Yuyi which gave them a 3-2 success over South Korea in the final in Mumbai.
Coach Shui Qingxia is a former player who was a member of the Chinese squad which gained a silver medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and joined the cause with the team on its knees.
Their experience at the delayed Tokyo Olympics was a nightmare as the once-feared team were beaten 5-0 by Brazil and 8-2 by the Netherlands.
Shui was in charge at Shanghai at the time, but helped steer the team to an unexpected victory at the Asian Cup having taken the reins from Jia Xiuquan.
The final squad has yet to be confirmed but here is the group that featured in a recent friendly defeat to Spain.
Goalkeepers: Xu Huan, Pan Hongyan, Gao Jingyao.
Defenders: Li Mengwen, Dou Jiaxing, Yao Wei, Chen Qiaozhu, Jin Kun, Wu Haiyan, Gao Chen, Wang Linlin.
Midfielders: Wang Shuang, Zhang Rui, Yao Longwei, Zhang Linyan, Fang Jie, Wu Chengshu, Yang Lina, Yang Qian.
Forwards: Wurigumula, Lou Jaihui, Liu Yanqiu, Tang Jiali, Xiao Yuyi, Wang Shanshan.
Although Australia’s star player Sam Kerr finished the top goalscorer at the Asian Cup, there were Chinese players who featured prominently, none more so than Wang Shanshan, who was voted player of the tournament.
The Tianjin Tengde forward has been a Steel Roses star for more than a decade and once scored nine goals in an Asian Cup game against Tajikistan.
Her five goals went a long way towards helping China to their cup success and she has scored 55 goals in 146 appearances in total for the national team.
Further experience comes from Wang Shuang, who also scored five goals in the tournament. She plays her football for Racing Louisville in America’s National Women’s Soccer League and has claimed 43 goals in her 121 internationals.
Faith could be put in those two to help steer China’s campaign, but look out also for Tang Jiali, who may be familiar to fans of the Women’s Super League as she spent time on loan at Tottenham the season before last from her parent club Shanghai Shengli.
With 31 goals in 72 games she can be a goal threat too, as she demonstrated with four goals in the Asian Cup success.
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