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Preview – Group A: Korea Republic v Norway

Reims: Korea Republic head coach Yoon Duk-yeo believes his side’s final FIFA Women’s World Cup Group A match against Norway on Monday is important to the future outlook of the team, even if winning it fails to take them to the knockout stage.

Successive defeats to France and Nigeria mean even defeating the Norwegians may not be enough to keep Korea Republic in the competition, with finishing as one of four highest-ranked third placed teams representing their best chance of reaching the Round of 16.

But even if progression from the group stage does prove to be out their reach, Yoon said his players are determined to perform well in the match Stade de Reims, which he believes will show the way forward for the national team programme.

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“The first and second matches (in this World Cup) were difficult matches and we are in a difficult position,” conceded the former men’s international defender.

“Now we have the last match, which is the third game, and the players and I would like to recover the pride of women’s football in Korea. We will not give up and we are preparing for this match.

“The last match is very important for us and, compared to the first and second games that we had; I think the third game will show us the direction we need to take for the future.”

Korea Republic endured a difficult start to the tournament with a 4-0 loss to France on opening night, but their 2-0 loss to Nigeria on Matchday Two arguably came as an even bigger blow.

That was a match Yoon had earmarked as one they had to win, and it was perhaps one they should have; producing seven shots on target to two, only to concede from a Kim Do-yeon own goal before Asisat Oshoala sealed the points late for the African champions.

The Korean boss remains bitterly disappointed about his side’s Group A return, but he insists they must learn from what has been a disappointing campaign.

“The first and second matches in the group stage went unexpectedly,” he said. “We wanted to get more points, but we failed.”

“It didn’t go according to our plan. We wanted to secure minimum points at least, but unfortunately, we had two consecutive defeats.

“Based on those defeats, my players and I will try to contribute to the future of the women’s game in our country. We had two defeats, but we can take lessons from those defeats, and there is always something we can learn from those failures.”

Korea Republic winger Lee Geum-min echoed her coach’s words, adding that the match against Norway provided a chance for individuals to take valuable experiences from a match on the biggest stage.

“We expected a lot from this World Cup, and we prepared a lot, but still we have one more match and we don’t want to give up,” she said.

“I believe the result will be more positive towards Team Korea and it will contribute towards the development of individual players, and we need to develop individual players to paint the picture of women’s football in Korea.”

While Korea Republic are rooted to the bottom of Group A, Norway enter the match on the brink of securing knockout stage football for the second successive World Cup, and the seventh time in eight appearances at the tournament.

Martin Sjögren’s side must at least match the result achieved by Nigeria in their simultaneous clash against France to secure their place in the Round of 16 as one of the top two sides in Group A.

Following a 3-0 win over Nigeria, the Scandinavians went down fighting in a 2-1 defeat to France, but despite their impressive performances, in-form midfielder Guro Reiten said her side will not discount the threat posed by Korea Republic.

“No, we know that they’re a good team, with a lot of good players, who want to have the ball,” said the 24-year-old, who is set to be a teammate of Korea Republic’s Ji So-yun at Chelsea in the coming season.

“They’re a good team but we have had a good start ourselves, so we want to still play attacking football and create some goals.”


Korea Republic v Norway
FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 Group A
Stade Océane, Le Havre
Kick-off: 21.00 (local time)

Photos: AFP

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