A pioneering nation in the women's game China PR has achieved significant success at all international levels, aside from the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup. They may have won silver at the Women's Olympic competition at Atlanta 1996 and emulated the feat in the FIFA Women's World Cup at USA 1999, before twice storming into the final in the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup at Thailand 2004 and Russian 2006. However, the accomplished east Asians are first-timers in the FIFA U-17 tournament, having failed to make it to the past two editions at New Zealand 2008 and Trinidad & Tobago 2010.
Their successful qualification for Azerbaijan 2012, therefore, marks a breakthrough by the east Asians who are seeking to prove themselves on the international front. Playing on home soil, the Chinese teenagers got off to a splendid start in last November's AFC U-16 Women's Championship with an 8-0 dismantling of Thailand, before putting three unanswered goals past Australia. Despite suffering two consecutive defeats at the hands of eventual winners Japan (3-0) and also Korea DPR (1-0), the hosts side held Korea Republic to a goalless draw in the all-important concluding game to seal passage at the expense of the reigning world champions.
Those excelling during the qualifying campaign are forming the backbone of the squad for September's global showpiece. Notably, Lu Yueyun has developed into a creative midfielder around whom the team's play rotates, while Lei Jiahui, who netted a brace against Thailand, adds to the driving force from the centre of the park. Spearheading the team's attack, though, is new-comer Tang Jiali, who joined the squad only after qualification but became the team's biggest revelation during the build-up. Having assisted former coach Fang Xuewei during China's successful qualification, Zhang Chonglai took over the coaching reins last November tasked with taking the team through to the knockout stage on their global debut. "The World Cup provides us with a rare chance to showcase our progress in front of the watching world," he said. "We will work hard to progress from our group."
Facts and figures
China hasn’t previously featured in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
Lu Yueyun, Lei Jiahui, Tang Jiali
The Chinese chalked up two wins, one draw and two defeats during their campaign, cracking home 11 goals while conceding just 4.
The numbers game
7 - China finished level with pre-tournament favourites Korea Republic on seven points but eventually made it through courtesy of their superior scoring tally.