China host champs DPR Korea, Japan take on Australia in semis

16:13, May 27, 2010      

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Hosts China will face reigning champions DPR Korea and in-form Japan will take on Australia in Thursday's semifinals of the AFC Women's Asian Cup, which take place at the 42,000-capacity Chengdu Sports Center.

The semifinal victors will qualify for next year's FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany, where they will be joined by the winners of the third-place playoff to be held before Sunday's final.

China will face DPR Korea with both the pressure and support of a large crowd as the hosts seek to win back the title they won seven straight times from 1986 to 1999 and most recently in 2006.

However, the "Steel Roses" have a poor record against DPR Korea. Their 1-0 win in the semifinal of the 2006 Asian Cup remains their only victory over the old foes in their last 14 encounters.

In the Asian Cup final two years ago, Shang Ruihua's side lost 2-1 to DPR Korea after a 1-0 defeat in the group stage in Ho Chi Minh City.

"DPR Korea are one of the top teams in Asia," Shang said. "They play really tough, but this time my players are eager to win."

Despite finishing top of Group B, China have been unconvincing so far and only escaped with a scoreless draw against South Korea after their opponents hit the woodwork four times.

A 5-0 win against bottom-placed Vietnam was followed by Sunday's 1-0 win over a much-changed Australia side who had already qualified for the semifinals.

"The players are getting better match by match," Shang added. "As young players, they need to play more and get used to international matches. We' ll do our best to play well as a team and keep improving."

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