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Pyongyang: Korea Republic sealed their place at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Jordan 2018 on Tuesday thanks to a comfortable 4-0 win over Uzbekistan.

On a dramatic final day of qualifying action, goals from Yoo Young-a, Cho So-hyun and Ji So-yun’s brace saw the Taegeuk Ladies secure top spot in Group B, edging out neighbours DPR Korea on goal difference in the process.

Knowing that only a convincing victory would ensure Korea Republic’s progress, head coach Yoon Deok-Yeo made six changes from his side’s 6-0 victory against Hong Kong in their last outing, opting to start with second half goalscorers Yoo Young-a and Jang Selgi.

With the pressure on, it was the East Asians who came close to grabbing an early lead, Ji So-yun clipping a sublime pass to Lee-min-a who was denied by Uzbekistan goalkeeper Laylo Tilovova’s fine save in the eighth minute.

The Taegeuk Ladies’ continued their search for the breakthrough, and a swift exchange of passes nearly lead to the opener in the 17th minute after Ji So-yun outpaced two Uzbek defenders before forcing another stellar stop from Tilovova.

Yoon Deok-Yeo’s charges finally broke the deadlock in the 21st minute, when Yoo Young-a met Jeon Ga-eul’s free-kick with a superb glancing header to hand Korea Republic the advantage.

Ji So-yun made it two almost instantly, controlling Jeon Ga-eul’s corner into the area before cutting in to make space for a shot that doubled her side’s lead on 23 minutes.

Captain Cho So-hyun then celebrated a century of international appearances in style, grabbing Korea Republic’s third just three minutes before the break thanks to a towering header over Tilovova after another flawless delivery by Jeon Ga-eul.

Eight minutes into the second half, Ji So-yun scored her second on the night and fourth of the qualifiers with a thunderous finish from inside the box after some decent approach play.

Korea Republic continued to press forward, and Yoo Young-a came close to adding another only to be denied by the onrushing Tilovova

That miss was to matter little however, as Korea Republic saw out the rest of the game without incident to seal a richly deserved place at next year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup.

Korea Republic coach Yoon Deok-yeo:
“Firstly, the players deserve full credit. We are delighted to have qualified but of course the work starts here, as we hope to qualify for the World Cup in France. When we were drawn to play here in Pyongyang, we always knew it was going to be tough because we have never played here before, but as soon as we drew DPR Korea, I had every faith that we would qualify.”

Uzbekistan coach Babakulov Sherali:
“We played well until the 21st minute, after that we lost our concentration and found it difficult to get back into the game. I am pleased with our performance overall, especially in the second half. I told the players to focus more on their number ten and seven and I am happy they carried out my instructions. At an average age of 20.43, we have one of the youngest squads here, so I am confident and hopeful for Uzbekistan women’s football. I know we can do better in four years and perhaps even qualify for the Asian Cup.”

Photo: DPR Korea Football Association