Self-critic Shang sets the standard
At 61, Shang Ruihua has spent more than two decades pioneering women's football in China and round the world, flitting between the senior national team and his current post in charge of the U-20s.
Those years, on the evidence of Russia 2006, have served to make him something of a perfectionist.
To many observers, Shang's all-conquering China PR side have been the tournament's most consistently impressive team thus far, with their progress to the last four never once appearing in doubt.
Yet, for all that they may have gone 359 minutes without conceding and racked up 10 goals of their own during the process, the Steel Rosebuds' post-match press conferences have become a familiar routine of opposition compliments being met by harsh self-criticism
After China had completely neutralised 2002 finalists Canada , for example - leading the Canucks' coach Ian Bridge to describe them as "defensively, one of the best teams I've ever seen at this level" - Shang insisted that his team had been "lucky" and focussed on their "technical and tactical flaws".
Quite literally, every match has ended the same, even the slick, comprehensive dismantling of Russia in the quarter-finals, following which the hosts' Valentin Grishin sat bemused as his Chinese counterpart reacted to praise of the emphatic 4-0 win by bemoaning his own inability to "maximise my team's abilities".
Just how well China will need to play in order to earn pass marks is, as yet, unclear, but the USA - their opponents in tomorrow's semi-final - must be shifting a little nervously at the prospect of facing a team whose standards are clearly so unremittingly high.
Shang, though, explained to FIFA.com that his approach can merely be attributed to a determination to remove even the smallest blemishes from the make-up of his young players.
"For a coach, I think the performance and the result are both of great importance," he said. "This is a world championship, so there is no way I would say to you everything it is all about the performance for me because, if we play well and lose, I and my players will be terribly disappointed.
"That said, I cannot lose sight of the fact that I am coach of the youth team, and in this role I need to be very careful with my players and look at their development as individuals. Whatever the result, I need to be critical, analyse their weaknesses and single out the areas in which they can try harder and do better."
Throughout the tournament, it has been China's midfield which Shang has consistently described as "our biggest problem", with the players patrolling the Asian champions' engine room criticised following the 3-0 victory over Nigeria for "not showing enough skill on the ball".
"There have been some slight improvements from the midfield," was Shang's update on that particular complaint, "especially in their defensive work. But in terms of attack, I still feel that their passing of the ball could be a lot better and I don't feel that we're organising our attacking play well from the midfield. A lot is being asked of our forwards."
'Ma can be the greatest'
Fortunately for China PR, they have one striker in particular who seems more than capable of providing all the answers. None of Shang's side's four opponents thus far, certainly, have managed to find a way of preventing Ma Xiaoxu from scoring, and the tournament's leading markswoman brings a great deal more to her team than merely goals.
So impressive and intelligent is the 18-year-old's play, in fact, that many - including her coach - are openly debating whether we are watching a future FIFA World Player of the Year in action, and a rival for Marta as the finest player of her generation. Typically, however, Shang does have his minor criticisms.
"From the matches I have watched, there is no doubt in my mind that she is the best player at this tournament," he said of his captain.
"Can she become the best in the world? She has the potential to achieve that, yes, but at the moment I would say she can still not resist some of the bad temptations that are common in young players. She needs to control herself better. If she does that, she definitely has the talent to become the greatest in the world."
With Ma in fine form and goalkeeper Zhang Yanru also excelling behind a rock-solid defence, there is much for which Shang can currently be thankful. A cloud has, however, appeared on the horizon in the shape of an injury to Xi Dingying, who withdrew at half-time against Russia and has subsequently been forced to return home after being diagnosed with damaged knee ligaments.
"It's a big negative for us right now," Shang admitted. "She's a very good player, extremely fast, and she would have been very useful for us against our next two opponents, both of whom will be much stronger. I had been keeping her in reserve during the group stage for that purpose, so it is a pity."
The mention of China's next two opponents will doubtless raise a few eyebrows - not to mention suggestions of complacency - but such is Shang's respect for the US, who inflicted two recent friendly defeats on his side, that he could just as easily be looking forward to the match for third place as the final itself.
"I think it will be a very high-level game and I actually wish that it was these two teams in the final," he said of the semi-final clash at Moscow's Lokomotiv stadium. "When I saw the US against Germany in St Petersburg, there was no doubt in my mind that they were the stronger of those two sides. It should be a beautiful game because we both have very different styles of play. My wish is that we can show our style to be the best... "