Loisel excited by Kiwi defeats
© AFP

Two matches, two wins - Elisabeth Loisel certainly got her reign as China PR coach off to a perfect start with back-to-back victories over New Zealand.

Having defeated the Kiwis 2-0 in the recent FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007, and playing on home soil in Guangzhou, the Chinese entered the double-header in confident mood.

Loisel's new-look side was given a stern test in part one of the double-header, though, although they ultimately did enough to emerge victorious, forward Guo Yue capitalising on a defensive error to score the only goal after 23 minutes. The French coach wanted to make a statement when the teams met again on Wednesday, and that she did in the form of an impressive 4-0 success.

After a Maia Jackman own goal had put them ahead, Han Duan doubled the hosts' lead on 58 minutes and further goals from substitute Zhang Zheng and midfielder Bi Yan, whose thumping, left-footed strike raised the roof eight minutes from time, sealed a morale-boosting result.

It came as a timely boost for Loisel, who took over from Swede Marika Domanski-Lyfors in October. With 233 days remaining before the kick-off of the Women's Olympic Football Tournament, it shows that the progress former France boss has made with a team whose target is no less than a top-three place at the global event.

"The two wins are the best Christmas gifts that I have ever been given," enthused Loisel. "The team played well and I hope we can play enough good matches like these in the run-up to the Olympic Games."

The match also marked the return to form for Chinese attacker Han Duan, who ended her three-month international goal drought by scoring the second goal. However, there was bad news for her strike partner Ma Xiaoxu, who picked up a serious injury, rupturing the cruciate ligament of her right knee. The star of last year's FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be sidelined for between three-to-four months.

The news saddened Chinese striking legend Sun Wen, who told FIFA.com: "This is a severe injury for any footballer and I hope she can get through the operation well and recover quickly."

Positives for New Zealand
Despite three losses in as many months at the hands of China, New Zealand coach John Herdman still reflected on the positives, in particular their brave performance in Sunday's narrow defeat. "We really took it to Chinese on Sunday and it was thus very disappointing we lost the first game," said Herdman, whose team only had a couple of training sessions following China 2007.

"China expected to beat us easily and give their coach a nice win in her first game in charge but our players didn't give it to them. We put them under pressure on the field and our girls dominated the second half," he said. "We've changed our approach from having to defend in the past and while we turned a corner tonight in terms of the possession stakes and also controlling the tempo of a game, we're still shy in front of goal. We'd love a Han Duan, but we haven't got one and we're still trying to find that player for us."

Football Ferns skipper Hayley Moorwood agreed with the coach that the New Zealand have to show a more clinical streak in front of goal. "It's tough," she said. "The gutting thing is that people will see the scoreline and imagine a different game. We now know we can dominate a team like that but it still hurts not to come a way with anything for all of that possession. We deserved a goal, but our work in the final third isn't there yet."