Not only was China PR's 4-0 defeat by Brazil their heaviest
in the history of the FIFA Women's World Cup, it also dealt a
significant blow to the host nation's prospects of progressing
to the last eight. With two wins out of two and a plus-nine goal
difference, Brazil already have a quarter-final place effectively
assured, leaving China and Denmark to contest Group D's second
qualifying berth in Thursday's final games.
The Steel Roses, who have relocated from Wuhan to Tianjin for their meeting with New Zealand, will reassess their tactical approach and come back fighting and, despite the setback on Saturday, everyone in the China camp is confident of securing qualification. After all, no host team in the history of the FIFA Women's World Cup has ever suffered the ignominy of a first-round exit.
Despite an opening victory over Denmark, China now find themselves behind the Danes on goal difference. The hosts will be hoping Brazil do them a favour by denying Denmark three points, although they must then keep their side of the bargain against a New Zealand team who, without a point, need a small miracle to stand any chance of advancing. In the event of both sides winning, China must achieve a victory margin five goals better than Denmark's.
China have enjoyed overwhelming superiority against New Zealand in the past, winning all six previous encounters. The teams met in the first round of the inaugural FIFA Women's World Cup in 1991, when China romped to a 4-1 victory on home territory.
The birthday girl
On 15 September, the day before she turned 24, New Zealand's Zoe Thompson could only watch from the substitutes' bench as her team-mates faltered to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Denmark. Not only will the forward be aiming to put in an appearance against China PR on Thursday, victory over the host nation would be the perfect belated birthday gift.
Neither of the teams have players missing through injury or suspension. In the Kiwi camp, Jenny Bindon, Ria Percival, Abby Erceg and Maya Jackman all collected bookings earlier in the tournament, while three members of the China PR squad - Xie Caixia, Pu Wei, and Zhang Tong - are also on a yellow card.
"There's no shame in losing to a world-class team such as Brazil. Although we've suffered a setback, we still have a chance. We have to increase our goal difference against New Zealand while hoping that Brazil are at their best against Denmark and go all-out for the win - Marika Domanski-Lyfors, China PR coach
At least theoretically, we can still qualify. If Brazil beat Denmark and we beat China by enough goals, we may progress to the quarter-finals together with Brazil. We'll be doing our homework on the China team and you can be certain that we'll make life extremely difficult for them. This next game promises to be extremely tough - John Herdman, New Zealand coach