TOKYO, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- China's women's football team ended their East Asian Football Championship campaign on a high Saturday, disposing of bottom-placed Chinese Taipei with a comfortable 3-0 victory to secure second place in the tournament, but it was a tenacious Japan team who finally walked away with the spoils in Tokyo on Saturday.
A goal in each half from Japan was enough to put them 3-points clear of rivals South Korea in the final game of the four-team tournament, held at Tokyo's Ajinomoto Stadium, although the South Koreans countered late in the second half and pressed the unbeaten defending champions to the end.
Japan's strategic and organizational strength was praised by Shang Ruihua, head coach of China's women's national team, who said his team could take some cues from the champions.
"The Chinese team played well in the tournament," said Shang Ruihua during an earlier press conference. "We made a few mistakes today with our passing and control and perhaps we need to address our overall organization, in this regard we can learn from Japan's approach," he said, looking towards May's Asian Cup, which will be held in China.
China's women's team got off to a rocky start losing 2-0 to the eventual champions in their opener, but found their form in their next game against a dogged South Korean team with a 2-1 victory, as their male counterparts broke a 32-year jinx by trouncing their rivals 3-0 in an historic win for China.
In the final installment of the women's competition on Saturday, China kept their hopes alive with a classy 3-0 win over bottom-placed Chinese Taipei, with Han Duan finding the net twice before Pang Fengyue added a third, in the hope that Japan would stumble in their final game against South Korea and the title would be decided by goal difference -- but it wasn't to be.
Champions Japan were rewarded with 50,000 U.S. dollars in prize money and second-placed China received 30,000 U.S. dollars for their efforts.
Head coach Shang has plenty of positives to build on as China look towards May's Asian Cup, and perhaps ace-striker Ma Xiaoxu could be key to winning some silver wear, as her coach explained.
"Ma Xiaoxu has played better during these three matches than in previous games, but I believe there's still better to come from her as she's not yet recovered her 2006 form, but has a great deal of potential," said Shang.
"All she needs to do is keep pushing herself and she'll thrive," said Shang.