Steel Roses outkick men in Chinese football in the Women’s World Cup.
According to Xue, the demonstration of willpower demonstrated to the world why Chinese supporters refer to them as the Steel Roses. She hopes the team can live up to its moniker during the Women’s World Cup, which is being held in Australia and New Zealand.
“When the Americans invited us to join the contest, everyone expected we’d lose. But football is unpredictable; you never know what will happen until the very last second,” Xue, now 30, tells the BBC.
“Beating one of the best teams in the world, in their home country, and breaking such a winning record… that victory put us over the moon,” adds Xue, who will watch the World Cup from her home in Dalian, China.
China still has work to do to advance to the next round. After losing their first game to Denmark, they must defeat Haiti in Adelaide on Friday in order to advance to the next round, where they will face England on Tuesday.
Outside of the World Cup, the Steel Roses are surpassing their male counterparts in China, a stunning success in a country where the sport has always been associated with men.
Regardless of the World Cup results, the team will be greeted as heroes.
“The girls demonstrated the great demeanor of Chinese women’s football, demonstrated their desire for victory, and that was the most valuable quality passed down by generations of Chinese women’s football,” said Huang Jianxiang, one of the country’s most famous football commentators, following the first game.
“They looked much better than our men’s team,” said one commenter on Weibo, China’s social media platform.