Elizabeth Loisel, former France coach who just took over the struggling Chinese women football team, arrived here on Thursday and started her adventure in China to reshape the squad, which was once one of the world's best, for the Beijing Olympics.
Loisel, 44, signed a contract with the Chinese Football Association (CFA) on Sunday, to replace Swede Marika Domanski- Lyfors who led the "Steel Roses" to the top eight of the 2007 World Cup on home soil but missed the target of top four.
Although the CFA tried hard to keep Domanski-Lyfors in position, the Swede insisted on stepping down, citing health and family reasons. Loisel started coaching France in 1997 but stepped down in February for her team's disqualification for the World Cup finals.
Loisel has set her first training camp in Xiaogan, a city about 70km away from Wuhan, the capital of Central China's Hubei Province.
The eye-catching new China head coach told Xinhua here,"This is my third time to come to China, and I love China."
Loisel showed her strong confidence to lead China to a new high, but she refused to give the answer to any concrete goal. "I will study the whole team and every player from now on," She noted.
In Wuhan, Loisel went to the sports stadium to watch the women's soccer semifinal between Wuhan and Nantong at the 6th Chinese City Games. Among the Wuhan players, Zi Jingjing, Ma Jun, Yue Min and Weng Xiaojie have just been enrolled in the China team. This was the first time for Loisel to observe her players in action.
The appearance of Loisel ignited the enthusiasm of all the fans and they called her name loudly in the stadium.
In front of the new head coach, the national team players performed quite well. Zi Jingjing and Ma Jun gifted Wuhan a 4-0 win over Nantong by scoring twice respectively.
But Elisabeth was not willing to comment on her players. "I need to watch more," she said.
"I don't know much about our new coach, but I hope she will help us improve our skills and stamina," said Weng Xiaojie.
"I will make efforts to prove myself in front of Elisabeth," Yuan Fan told Xinhua. Yuan, who was kicked out of the national team early this year but was called up by Elisabeth, was playing for Shanghai Pudong at the 6th Chinese City Games.
As the seventh head coach and the second foreign coach of the Chinese side in four years, Loisel is said to lift her side to the world top six.
She will start the first camp training on Friday in Xiaogan where 35 players are expected to attend.