Chinese players plead for Swedish coach to stay

China's women football players are pleading with Swedish coach Marika Domanski-Lyfors not to leave them in the lurch and instead spearhead their quest for an Olympic medal.

Domanski-Lyfors, who took over in March as the country’s first foreign hire, has hinted that she may walk away after failing to steer the side past the World Cup quarter-finals.

But the players and the China Football Association (CFA) have made clear they want her to stick around.

“We should cheer for the players and the coach, and give our thanks to Domanski-Lyfors,” CFA vice president Xie Yalong was quoted as saying by China Daily, in a key endorsement of the coach.

Striker Han Duan failed to find the net in all four World cup matches but insisted Domanski-Lyfors could take China to another level.

“We were making progress and we are getting more aware of our shortcomings, which are so much significant for the preparation of Beijing Olympics,” she told the paper.

“Domanski brought us many positive things, making us play as a team and encouraging us to keep upbeat for the future. We are very happy and we hope she could stay.”

Han’s strike partner Ma Xiaoxu said the team cried when they heard the Swede could leave.

“When we were told she may leave the team, everyone could not help crying. I tried to be strong but did not hold it,” she said.

Rookie defender Wang Kun, whose defensive blunder cost China victory against Norway in the quarter-finals this week, echoed similar sentiments.

“I am concerned if the coach will leave the job because of my mistake,” she said.

“She was kind and true-hearted to us. She made us feel we are returning to be a strong team. We all like her so much. I hope she will stay and take us to the Olympics.”

Domanski-Lyfors said she would meet with the CFA after the tournament to discuss her future.