Teamwork is key, says DPR Korea’s Hong
Chonburi: Hong Song-ok is one of several players to have shone bright in DPR Korea’s stunning form in the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019, but the midfielder believes teamwork is the key to their success.
The defending champions were outstanding in the group stage, winning all three of their matches with a record of 17 goals scored and none conceded.
Seven different players, including Hong, have found the net so far, and she believes her side’s even spread of both talent and responsibility is one of their major strengths.
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“Every single player, we were all playing as one team,” she said after their 3-0 win over Korea Republic on Sunday.
“Everybody has been together as one and we have had great teamwork. If we stay like that in our future matches, I believe we will probably get more success.”
Hong’s goal against Korea Republic was a dazzling 25-yard free-kick worthy of winning any game of football, but it was merely the latest addition to the 16-year-old’s ever-growing personal highlights reel.
Her other goals in Chonburi have been a 40-yard screamer against Vietnam and a sensational curling strike from the edge of the box against China, with seemingly no defence safe from her sharpshooting efforts.
All three of her goals have come in the second half of matches, with Hong putting her hot streak down to a combination of hours on the training pitch and a high level of match awareness.
“One of my skills is to shoot from distance and I trained really had to develop the skill to be able to score from long distance situations,” she explained.
“I’ve also been trying to score goals in the first half as well! In the first half I take my time to understand the game but in the second half I get used to the game and I have the knowledge of how it is being played.
"That’s mostly why I have been scoring my goals in the second half of games.”
While Hong and her DPR Korea teammates can now plan for Wednesday’s semi-final against Australia, Korea Republic’s hopes for a second successive qualification for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup were extinguished in Sunday’s match.
Defender Kim Ye-eun – a veteran of the 2018 global Finals in Uruguay – refused to make excuses for her side’s defeat, saying the wet conditions in which the match had been played made defending against DPR Korea’s in-form forwards easier, not more difficult.
“I think we played better in the first half compared to the second half, but as a whole team I think we gave it our best,” she said.
“The pitch not being in a very good condition actually made it easier as a defender to block the ball because the DPRK players were having difficulty getting the ball to each other.”
Despite Korea Republic’s early exit, Kim believes the nation’s promising youngsters will have benefitted as footballers from their time in Chonburi.
“It was a good experience playing against international teams because we don’t have too much experience back home,” she said.
“It was disappointing to be knocked out but also a very good experience for us.”
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