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Xu issues rallying cry for Olympic qualifiers

2019-12-06 15:34:00 chinadaily

Team China head coach Xu Limin has urged his players to believe in themselves more ahead of next February's FIBA Women's Olympic qualifying tournament in Foshan, Guangdong province.

"Our players need to build confidence. I feel the team didn't show it enough during the recent Asia-Oceania Olympic prequalifying tournament. We need to build it through training and daily work," Xu told Xinhua.

China will take on Spain, Britain and South Korea in Foshan, with the top three teams earning Olympic berths.

With third-ranked Spain big favorites to top the group, Xu is targeting victories over the Brits and Koreans.

"I wouldn't call it a 'group of death' exactly, but indeed it's difficult, as everyone is strong," he said.

"We will mainly set our sights on Britain and South Korea, but it doesn't mean that we will give up against Spain.

"We can expect an intense matchup in this competition, and anything is possible."

Xu is particularly relishing renewing China's rivalry with South Korea. During prequalifying, China lost its opener against its Asian arch-rival before gaining revenge with two victories to advance as the top finisher.

"The loss (to South Korea) was not beyond my expectations," said Xu. "Our young group was not quite used to their style. We were prepared but failed to reproduce our preparatory work on the day.

"We will meet again in the qualifiers. We need to prepare better for the difficulties ahead.

"Every coin has two sides. We didn't perform to our level because we were overly concerned about South Korea's game. Then we simplified things and played our own game against New Zealand."

For Xu, bouncing back from adversity is an important part of the team's development.

He also hopes that his players can harness the fans' energy in Foshan, but cautioned: "The home advantage is a double-edged sword.

"Everything should go our way if we deal with it properly, but it could pose us huge pressure in the opposite scenario. We have to consider how to motivate our potential at home."

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