Hur Jung-jae urges his players to follow example of 2009
Chonburi: Japan and DPR Korea have historically dominated the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship, but Korea Republic remain the only team to ever lift the trophy in Thailand.
In 2009, Choi Duck-joo’s squad caused a major upset, beating reigning champions DPR Korea 4-0 in the final in Bangkok to claim what remains their only Asian title at this age level.
Eight years on, Korea Republic are back in the final for the first time since, and again they will face a title-defending DPR Korea – but the similarities don’t end there.
The class of 2009 also played and beat hosts Thailand in their second match in Group A, overcame Japan in the semi-final and even earned the same points tally in the group stage.
So, does current coach Hur Jung-jae believe destiny is in his team’s favour?
“I guess I didn’t do enough homework. I didn’t know all of that happened in 2009!” he laughed, before adding “but I did know that we won, and that we beat DPR Korea in the final.”
“I think the 2009 team is a very good example for our players now, and they can learn a lot from them.”
Led by Yeo Min-ji’s goals, Choi’s 2009 side went on to win the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup the following year, and players such as Lee Guem-min, Lee So-dam and Jang Sel-gi are part of the current senior national team, whose recent achievements have been used to motivate Hur’s young squad.
“Earlier this year, our senior women’s team went to Pyongyang and played against DPR Korea for the Asian Cup qualifiers (earning a crucial 1-1 draw). That was also a good example for these young players,” he said.
“We showed them footage from that game to show them how they should mentally prepare for the game that’s coming.”
The coach – who has shown his ability to change the direction of matches with tactical alterations in Thailand – said that even if his team don’t manage to repeat the exploits of eight years ago, their qualification for the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2018 will provide crucial lessons,
“I really wanted to qualify for the World Cup – especially for the players and their development. They’ll be exposed to different styles, tactics and techniques, It’s really good for them,” he explained.
“Even if we don’t end up winning the World Cup next year, it’s a great opportunity for the development of these young players.”
Hur said he hoped Korea Republic’s achievements at both youth and senior level would help the development of the women’s game in the country, affirming his intention to devote the rest of his career to the cause.
“This is only my second year being a women’s football coach. It was my request to the association that I’d like to train the women’s team,” he revealed.
“My first opportunity as a national team coach came at this level. Now, I’d like to finish my coaching career as a women’s coach.
“It would be a lot to me to win this tournament.”
History repeating? – Similarities between Korea Republic’s 2009 and 2017 campaigns
Thailand – Korea Republic won the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship the only previous time the tournament was held on Thai soil. They also beat the hosts in their second match in both years.
Seven points – In 2009, as in 2017, Korea Republic picked up two wins and a draw from their three group stage matches, and were drawn into Group A in both years.
Japan – In both 2009 and 2017, Korea Republic needed beat Japan in a gripping semi-final in order to reach the finale.
DPR Korea – The most obvious similarity of all. Korea Republic stunned a title-defending DPR Korea 4-0 in the 2009 final – will history repeat?