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Preview – Group A: Nigeria v Korea Republic

Grenoble: Korea Republic head coach Yoon Duk-yeo has backed his players to recover from their opening match loss to France and get their FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign back on track by beating Nigeria on Wednesday.

The Koreans were blown away by a rampant host nation in Paris last Friday, conceding three first-half goals on the way to a comprehensive 4-0 defeat.

Nigeria suffered a loss of their own, to Norway, in their opening fixture, turning Wednesday’s match at Grenoble’s Stade des Alpes into one where a loss for either side could inflict irreparable damage to their hopes of knockout stage football.

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Korea Republic’s start to the competition was far from ideal, but Yoon - who guided the side to a historic Round of 16 berth in Canada 2015 – believes his side can bounce back from the early disappointment, just as they did four years ago.

“In order to meet our initial target, which is the Round of 16, (this match) will be really important for Team Korea,” he said.

“I think, when we look back on 2015, we lost the first game, but the second game was a draw and we won the third game, then we entered the Round of 16.

“In order to meet our target again, I believe that tomorrow’s match will be important for us, and what is really important is to score tomorrow.”

Scoring is something that Korea Republic rarely came close to doing in the France defeat. They managed just two shots at goal in 90 minutes at Parc des Princes, and only tested French goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi on one occasion.

Yoon knows his side must create more in attack against Nigeria, but he is aware the 11-time African champions have the potential to play at a level higher than that suggested by their world ranking of 38; some 24 places below Korea Republic.

“We both have one loss, so we must not step back, and we must play hard in the second match,” said Yoon, a former men’s World Cup player in 1990.

“The FIFA ranking of Nigeria is lower than that of Korea, but we cannot put too much consideration on that, because when we consider Nigeria’s strategy, it is as good as ours and they are experienced in international matches as well.

“(But) we have found shortcomings in the defence of Nigeria in their match, and that was well analysed by us, and we will be more offensive in the second match, I believe.”

Nigeria were relatively competitive in their Matchday One defeat against Norway, falling to a 3-0 loss despite matching the Scandinavians for large periods of the tie.

Head coach Thomas Dennerby knows how vital Wednesday’s match is in his side’s bid to reach the knockout stage for the first time since 1999, which has been dealt a blow by the absence of injured defensive veteran Faith Michael.

“Yeah of course, we want to win this game and I know the situation is the same for Korea, so definitely it is going to be a battle,” said the Swedish boss.

“But also, even though we lost the first game, we are still very confident because we had the first 25 minutes which was a really good start in the game (against Norway) and the passing game and pace of the game was good.

“If we can bring that to this game, I think that we have a really good chance, but we need to win.”


Nigeria v Korea Republic
FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 Group A
Stade des Alpes, Grenoble
Kick-off: 15.00 (local time)

Photos: AFP

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