- All or nothing for Peter Bonde and China PR in last group match
- The Dane only took charge of the East Asians back in February
- "We have a chance against any team"
At the age of 60, Peter Bonde is one of football’s ‘old hands’. After calling time on a long playing career in his homeland of Denmark in 1995, he managed Naestved BK and Nykobing FC before a brief spell in charge of the Danish women’s national team in 2005. Between 2006 and 2016, Bonde served as an assistant coach to the Danish men’s national side, and was only appointed as the coach of China PR’s U-20 women’s team back in February.
"I’m so old and I’ve seen and tried so many things, but I’ve never tried anything like this," he laughed when asked what prompted him to accept this particular challenge. "I was curious, so I jumped on a plane to China, and here I am. I really enjoy working with the players. It’s a real joy to see how they have developed over the past seven months."
His hard work began to bear fruit in the first match at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018, as the Asian side secured a 2-1 win over Haiti. "The most important thing when you start a tournament like this is to score the first goal and get the first point, and we scored both goals and won the match," he said. "We were happy with the result, and I was pleased with the mentality and attitude of the players. Having said that, as a coach, you’re never totally satisfied; you always want to do things better."
China PR’s encounter with their Caribbean opponents was far from a walk in the park for the Dane and his team. The Haitians consistently threatened the Chinese goal and made life particularly difficult for their defence. "I knew before the game how good [Haiti’s No.10] Nerilia Mondesir was," Bonde explained. "She really impressed me. She’s a world-class player and you can see that she plays in one of the best leagues in the world. Their No.11 and No.18 also stood out [Roseline Eloissaint and Melchie Dumonay – editor’s note]. Our defenders were struggling a lot with them; they were very aggressive, very strong. I knew they were good, but I didn’t know they were that good. I think my players were a little surprised about that. Their quality was much better than I expected."
The significance of this victory became clear after China PR’s second match, when they were beaten by Germany. Thanks to their three points against Haiti, Bonde can still aim for the quarter-finals with his team. Nevertheless, only a win will do against second-placed Nigeria, who have a superior goal difference.
"I watched their first match against Germany," he said. "I expected a strong side and they have some very good players. You can see that they’re used to playing at a high level. They look more experienced than my own players. I’m sure it will be a very tough game, but if we play our best football, we have a chance against any team."