2019 Women's World Cup will be tough for Steel Roses: Sun Wen

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China international striker Sun Wen, who plays for the Atlanta Beat, attends the inauguration of Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) in Washington on April 14, 2001. (Xinhua/Wang Yan)

BEIJING, April 9 (Xinhua) -- Chinese legendary forward Sun Wen urged the Chinese players have faith in themselves on the pitch, despite being drawn in a demanding group of the upcoming FIFA Women's World Cup.

In the upcoming 2019 France FIFA Women's World Cup, China are in Group B with Germany, Spain and South Africa. Four years ago, they were knocked out in the quarterfinals.

"All teams are strong in the World Cup. Chinese players should do all they can to win each game, and what's important is to adjust themselves to their best form, and always keep in high spirits," said Sun, now director of the women's youth training department of the Chinese Football Association (CFA).

Sun was the leading figure in the generation of Chinese women's footballers who experienced the most glorious days of Chinese women's soccer.

In the U.S. tournament in 1999, the Chinese women's team registered their best World Cup record as runners-up after their runners-up finish at the 1996 Olympic Games. Sun and her teammates were dubbed the 'Steel Roses' due to their spirited performance.

Now the Steel Roses are headed by star striker Wang Shuang. The 24-year-old joined French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain earlier in 2018, and became the first Chinese to score in the UEFA Women's Champions League.

Wang was named the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women's Player of the Year in November 2018, becoming the fourth Chinese player to win the award, after Sun, Bai Jie and Ma Xiaoxu.

"Wang is a very talented young player, and she has a good platform to improve herself both mentally and tactically," Sun commented, adding that Wang needs more time to grow.

Commenting on youth training and development for women, the four-time World Cup player suggested that football is not only about what happens on the pitch. Instead, it requires girls to hone many kinds of skills, including social skills.