China fail to qualify for Women's World Cup for first time

08:38, May 31, 2010      

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Hosts China squandered their last chance to gain a 2011 Women's World Cup berth here on Sunday when they lost to Japan 2-0 at the AFC Women's Asian Cup third-place playoff.

The AFC Women's Asian Cup is held in soccer-mad city Chengdu from May 19-30. The top three finishers will qualify for next year's World Cup in Germany.

China, who aimed to win back the AFC trophy from holders DPR Korea and qualify for the 2011 World Cup, disappointed the home crowd as they not only failed to reach the Asian Cup final for the first time in nine years, but also failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time.

"We could not qualify for the World Cup and I feel it is quite reasonable for me to leave the team. I feel very sorry for the fans of the Chinese women's football team," said Shang Ruihua, whose two-year tenure as China coach may end after the game.

"I think we did our best in terms of tactics and in fighting spirit," he added. "I would like to thank all the players not just for how they played in this match but in the whole tournament."

The "Steel Roses", who last won the Asian Cup in Adelaide in 2006 after a record seven successive titles from 1983 to 1999, failed to make even a single challenging attack against Japan's goalmouth, while the East Asian champions took control of the field in most time of the match with dangerous attacks and solid defense.

East Asian champions Japan opened their scoring in the 18th minute when midfielder Miyama Aya sneaked in to pounce on the loose ball in a melee after her free kick missed the target and teammate Sawa Homare's shot hit the woodwork.

The hosts' misery was compounded in the second half when Sawa curved a header on Miyama's free kick in the 62nd minute.

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