By Zheng Daojin
JINAN, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese women's national soccer team failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in history after a 1-0 loss to Japan at the 2012 London Games Asian qualifiers here on Sunday.
China is seated at the fourth place with merely 5 points from five games. Table leaders Japan cruised to Olympic finals with 13 points, and second-placed DPR Korea got the other ticket with 11 points. Australia ranked the third at 9, while South Korea at 4 and winless Thailand all failed.
The "Steel Roses" failed to qualify for the FIFA Women's World Cup for the first time last year on home soil, and this time, the historical disqualification for the Olymics was another heavy blow to China.
"I felt sorry that we couldn't use a victory to bring happiness to the Chinese people for the Mid-Autumn Day," said Chinese coach Li Xiaopeng, "but the players have tried their best."
Li had raised his request to resign from the coach position after the last game, in which China lost to Australia 1-0 to keep merely theoretical hope of qualifying.
"I'm a man to keep promise," Li said. "Thanks all the players, the team staff, my family, and also the meida."
China had already been kicked off the race before the game against Japan, as DPR Korea made a comfortable 5-0 win over Thailand to kill the suspense. In the last game of defending their dignity, the hosts tried hard but defender Tanaka Asuna's 57-min follow-up after a shot against the crossbar added to their wounds.
"It's a little bit hard for the players as they know before the game that we're eliminated," commented Li.
Xu Yuan and Ma Jun had two threatening shots in the game against a second-choiced Japan side, but the Nadeshikos created better chances by rattling the bar twice.
The Chinese team showed their lack of organized attacking throughout the tournament. Without a playmaker and fast thinking on the pitch, China could only fight against their rivals with some tough defence.
"I brought on a lot of young players for the game against China, and they got good experience on the pitch," said Japanese boss Norio Sasaki.
"Both team have good qualities. If the Chinese team have better teamwork, I think they will improve in the future."