Jia praises China PR, Bell expects response from Korea Republic

Head coach Jia Xiuquan was pleased with China PR’s performance in their 2-1 win against Korea Republic in the first leg of their Tokyo 2020 Olympics Playoff tie at the Goyang Stadium.

Both teams were playing competitive football for the first time in over a year with China striking first through Xin Zhang before Korea Republic’s Kang Chae-rim levelled the score to put the sides on equal terms going into the break.

However, Wang Shuang’s 73rd-minute penalty proved to be the difference in a hard-fought contest and China only need to avoid defeat in Tuesday’s second leg in Suzhou to advance to the Tokyo Olympics.

“We won the away game with good attacking play despite being under pressure. I think the team deserved the victory. They performed very well and they did their best,” said former international Jia.

“I believe that they all have learnt a lot from this match and they will perform better in our home match.

“These matches are different from other competitions, players need to be braver in the Olympic Qualifiers, to play at a top level, I think they have all achieved this.”

Jia blamed a lapse in concentration that led to Korea Republic drawing level.

“Korea Republic are strong. They wanted to score as soon as possible after conceding the first goal. It’s quite normal and this usually happens between strong teams. One team makes a mistake and the other will benefit from it. We should always be focused until the end.

“An away game is always difficult against a strong team like Korea Republic. We needed a good result, so we made a lot of adjustments in the balance of offence and defence after half-time.”

Colin Bell’s side now face an uphill battle to achieve their dream of a maiden Olympic qualification and the Korea Republic head coach admitted his team made it harder for themselves after having conceded two away goals.

“We made our lives even harder and more difficult, which was totally unnecessary,” Bell said to local media. “We should have at least had a 1-1 draw.”

“The girls dominated in the last 15 to 20 minutes. We had some good passages of play. In the second half, I can’t remember a chance for China apart from the penalty.

“So we just have to look at the game and pick out the moments and the areas that we need to improve, and also identify the areas that China have weaknesses in that we can exploit a little bit better.

“We know of course, yes, it’s a tough one, but it’s not impossible.”

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