Semi-final: DPR Korea march into final
Chonburi: DPR Korea became the first team to secure a place in Saturday’s AFC U-16 Women’s Championship Final, also sealing qualification for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2020 with a 3-0 semi-final win over Australia on Wednesday.
Kim Hye-yong starred for DPR Korea, scoring two early goals to go equal top of the scoring charts before Kim Pom-i added a late sealer, as Hwang Yong-song’s side continued their excellent run of results to set up a meeting with either Japan or China PR in Saturday’s decider.
Australia’s defeat – their first in an 11-game campaign which began over a year ago – ends their dream of reaching a first ever FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, with a third-place finish now the best they can hope for.
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DPR Korea had beaten Australia in all three of their previous AFC U-16 Women’s Championship meetings, and – with a place in India 2020 on offer - they immediately set about extending the streak with a commanding start to the semi-final.
A Hong Song-ok free-kick had Australian goalkeeper Miranda Templeman at full stretch to make a strong save in the ninth minute, but the Junior Matildas would survive just five more before conceding, with Kim Hye-yong expertly controlling a delivery from deep before calmly stroking the ball into the bottom corner of the net for 1-0.
It took a superb Templeman stop to prevent red-hot Kim from adding a second just over a minute later, but her second goal wasn’t much further away; this time tricking her way past Australian captain Jessika Nash before rifling an unstoppable drive into the top corner in the 17th minute.
More Templeman heroics prevented Kim’s hat-trick, and Ham Ju-hyang hit the crossbar as the under-siege Junior Matildas succeeded in getting to half-time without further damage, but DPR Korea’s 17 first-half shots to Australia’s two reflected the gulf between the sides.
With 45 minutes left to salvage their campaign, Australian head coach Rae Dower introduced striker Georgia Beaumont three minutes after half-time, but it didn’t translate into chances as DPR Korea goalkeeper Pak Ju-mi’s quiet tournament continued.
While Australia had difficulty in unlocking a solid Korean defence, they showed no signs of wilting in the afternoon heat and remained within the same two-goal striking distance with 15 minutes remaining.
But they couldn’t find a way back, and it took an excellent Nash tackle to prevent substitute Hwang Sol-ran from adding a third after she rounded the valiant Templeman.
With time running out, another substitute, Kim Pom-i rifled home a terrific low effort for DPR Korea’s third as they sealed their passage to the World Cup with a seventh successive top-two finish at the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship.
Hwang Yong-song: DPR Korea head coach
“That was a very a difficult match for our girls today, but we scored three goals and conceded none and we are very happy that we got the ticket to the (FIFA U-17 Women’s) World Cup. The team’s responsibility is getting higher because we are going to represent Asian teams. Our opponent was not a weak team, they were one of the strongest teams in Group A and the conditions of the match were very tough for both teams.”
Rae Dower: Australia head coach
“The performance certainly wasn’t our best today, but I think you have to pay credit to our opponents. I think they were very strong and showed an intent to press us. In the second half we found it very difficult to get out of our own half, so full credit to them. That’s why they’re the most successful team in history in this age group, and they showed their true quality today.”
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