Shang: Hard task ahead

China's women's football coach Shang Ruihua, appointed in April, admitted on Tuesday that the team still has a long way to go. Shang has been tasked with taking the underperforming team to at least the semi-finals of the Olympic Games, but knows it won't be easy.

"In the past we were a strong team, we had a lot of good results, but for various reasons our performances have been up and down," said the 63-year-old, who previously coached the team at the 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup, guiding them to fifth.

"In training we have focused on two things: creating team unity and also training hard and raising technical standards. But we are still some distance behind the top teams in the world."

Shang is China's fifth women's coach since the Athens Olympics, and took over from Frenchwoman Elisabeth Loisel, who was fired less than five months after being hired following a fractious relationship with Chinese officials.

On his appointment Shang said: "I am not a picky coach, and I will not complain about the mess. I am willing to accept the challenge and help our women's team out of the deep end." China has been drawn against Canada, Argentina and Sweden in the tournament that begins on Wednesday, two days before the official Games opening.