Preview – Final: DPR Korea v Japan
Chonburi: The head coaches of both Japan and DPR Korea believe Saturday’s AFC U-19 Women’s Championship final between their two sides will provide valuable experience as they build towards competing at next year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
The East Asian powerhouses are set to meet in the Continental title showdown for a third successive edition after five-time title winners Japan beat Australia 7-0 and DPR Korea defeated Korea Republic 3-1 in their respective semi-final ties.
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Those victories not only saw them progress into this weekend’s blockbuster of an encounter, but also guaranteed the duo a place at the 2020 global extravaganza in Nigeria – much to the delight of Japan’s Futoshi Ikeda.
“I am delighted that we are through to the final [of the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship] and that we have qualified for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup,” explained the former Urawa Red Diamonds defender whose charges have won all four of their games in Thailand.
“The players could well have been under pressure during the semi-final but they successfully changed that pressure into motivation.
“I think that DPR Korea are a very tough team and, because of that, I am expecting that our match against them will be an exceedingly difficult one.
"Having said that, the final is another special occasion and I want the players to enjoy the moment as it will undoubtedly give them valuable experience for both the FIFA U-20 World Cup and their general development.”
While the likes of star striker Yuzuki Yamamoto and influential midfielder Oto Kanno may have grabbed the headlines, Japan’s stellar progress is also down to the significant contributions made by every other member of their squad.
Although understandably reticent to disclose his starting 11 for the final, Ikeda was, however, quick to declare that no matter who plays against DPR Korea, he is confident that the high standards he demands will be maintained.
“We always try to keep the same level of high performance regardless of who is playing,” he said.
“I think one of the strengths of this Japan team is that every player, when called on, can play to the very best of her ability.”
Like their opponents, DPR Korea have racked up four successive victories en route to the final, with Wednesday’s win over Korea Republic arguably their best yet.
Resilient in defence and clinical going forward, the Koreans have shone brightly at Thailand 2019, although they are now set to face a team which has beaten them in three of the competition’s last four finals.
Nevertheless, having advanced to within 90 minutes of a second Continental crown, head coach Son Sung-gwon is adamant that the 2007 champions are determined to succeed and, in the process, learn yet more valuable lessons ahead of their 2020 World Cup campaign.
“I think my players have performed very well and have deserved to qualify for the final,” he said.
“As a result I am very happy with them. Having made the final, the players will now do their absolute best to win the title.
“I hope they will now play even better in the final match and ensure that we can use the game as excellent preparation for next year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.”
DPR Korea vs Japan
Chonburi Stadium: 20:00 (UTC+7)
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