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Vice-premier encourages ‘Steel Roses’ to bloom again

Updated: Jul 1,2015 10:59 PM     Xinhua

Vice-Premier Liu Yandong meets players of the national women’s soccer team in Beijing, June 30, 2015.[Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING — Vice-Premier Liu Yandong has congratulated the national women’s soccer team for its top eight finish at the ongoing World Cup in Canada, and encouraged the players, called “Steel Roses” by Chinese fans, to reach world top class as early as possible.

Meeting with the whole team in Beijing on June 30, Liu spoke highly of the girls’ performances in the World Cup, the high spirit and the wonderful teamwork in particular.

Liu said, “The Chinese women’s soccer rallied from the low ebb to such a new high. The whole team played well in the World Cup arena, boosted the confidence in the revival of the Chinese soccer, and brought new energy to the Chinese sport and the whole society.”

Liu expressed the hope that the whole team could learn from the world top teams, build and improve its own playing style, and regain the glory of their predecessors.

Vice-Premier Liu Yandong meets players of the national women’s soccer team in Beijing, June 30, 2015.[Photo/Xinhua]

As the soccer reform is going on in China, Liu urged everyone concerned to take the chance to help upgrade the competitive skills of the women footballers, and to fully explore the potentials.

The Chinese women’s soccer had been glorious in the 1990s with two runners-up (one in 1996 Olympics and the other in 1999 World Cup). As a group of veteran stars including Sun Wen retired, the “Steel Roses” began to wither. In 2007 World Cup at home, China failed to enter the semis. Then the team did not qualify for the World Cup finals until Canada 2015.

In the Canada World Cup finals, China is the youngest of the 24 teams, with an average age of 23.5. However, they finished second in the group, losing 1-0 to hosts Canada, beating the Netherlands 1-0 and tied New Zealand 2-2. In the Round of 16, they beat Cameroon 1-0, entering the quarters after eight years. Their trip ended with an 1-0 loss to the title favorites United States in the quarterfinal.

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