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Korean Women’s Soccer Triumphs

Posted August. 08, 2005 03:04,   


Korean women’s soccer kicks its way to hope.

At finals of the EAFF Women’s Cup 2005 played on August 6, the Korean team drew with Japan, 0-0 and won the cup. With a final result of two wins and one draw (seven points), it beat North Korea (two wins and one loss, six points), Japan (two draws and one loss, two points), and China (one draw two losses, one point) to take home the victory cup and $50,000 in prize money.

During this championship, the Korean team showed a staunch defense that did not allow a single goal during three games and scored three goals, the most out the four teams, quickly rising to the status of an Asian women’s soccer power.

Most of all, Korea, ranked 26th in the world rankings, beat eighth ranked China, 2-0, and seventh ranked North Korea, 1-0, showing the possibility of advancing higher in the world’s top rankings. It was different team from the old team that was first created in 1990 and that was thrashed not only by North Korea, China, and Japan, but also by Taiwan and Thailand. The Korean team is steadily improving as seen by its qualification to the Women’s World Cup in 2003 and its winning the Asian Women’s Youth Football Championship in 2005.

The driving force behind Korea’s victory is the leadership of Coach Ahn Jong-gwan (39), also known as the “drill instructor.” Having led the women’s team since 2001, Coach Ahn boldly selected younger players to play on his team. He picked six players including Cha Yeon-hee (19, Yeojoo University), Han Song-yi (20, Yeojoo University), and Park Eun-jung (19, Yesung Girls’ High School) from the youth team that won the Asian Women’s Youth Football Championship and combined them harmoniously with veterans from the 2003 World Cup, Yoo Young-sil (30) and Song Joo-hee (28), both playing for INI Steel.

He also emphasized stabilizing the defense so they would not be shaken against a stronger opponent. His efforts paid off during this championship.

“Despite the short preparation period, I am satisfied that we played on an equal level to North Korea, Japan and China. I think that more than in the past, the Korean women’s team is approaching the top Asian level, such as China and Japan,” said Coach Ahn.

South Korea’s Kim Jung-mi (INI Steel) and Yoo Young-sil, won goalkeeper and defender awards, respectively, and North Korea’s Hurh Soon Hee was voted as the MVP.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com