Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
The curtain came down on the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup on Sunday with DPR Korea having to be content with a creditable fourth-place finish after being edged 3-2 by European champions France. As the build up to the AFC's 60th Anniversary celebrations continue, the-afc.com turns the clock back to 2006 when the North Koreans reigned supreme as Asia dominated that edition of the tournament.
Asia has emerged a significant power at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup with DPR Korea's penalty shootout defeat of three-time champions the USA in Toronto maintaining the continent's impressive record of providing a top-four finisher for every edition of the biannual FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup since 2004.
That run started with China in Thailand and two years after they finished runners up to Germany, the Steel Rosebuds would have a second crack at Women's under 20 glory but at Russia 2006 it would be against familiar foes DPR Korea as that year's AFC U-19 Championship finalists locked horns in Moscow in what was the first time two Asian sides had contested the final of a FIFA tournament.
And as it transpired China would once again have to settle for second as the North Koreans ran out emphatic winners with the biggest winning margin in seven FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup finals.
Choe Kwang-sok's side showed their title credentials in the group stage, collecting maximum points without conceding a single goal to finish top of Group C defeating defending champions Germany 2-0 in their opener at the Dynamo Stadium before recording 4-0 victories over Switzerland and Mexico, with the likes of playmaker Kim Hyong-hwa, defender Hong Myon-gum and striker Kil Son-hui impressing for the Chollima.
Kim and Hong were on target as DPR Korea defeated France 2-1 in Saint Petersburg before Ri Un-hyang's winner with three minutes of their semi-final against Brazil remaining as the North Koreans completed the first half of an all-Asian final act.
While China hammered hosts Russia 4-0 in the quarter-finals their progression to the final was more fraught than the Koreans, with Shang Ruihua's side edging the USA on penalties with the two sides locked at 0-0 after extra time.
While both semi-finals were closely fought, the same could not be said for the final as DPR Korea turned on the style to clobber the Chinese and get payback for their 1-0 defeat to the same opponents in the final of the 2006 AFC U-19 Championship in Kuala Lumpur.
Kim Song-hui stole the show in the final scoring three of the eventual champions' five goals but it was China's fearless captain Ma Xiaoxu that emerged the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup's standout player, claiming both of the tournament's individual awards – the Golden Shoe and the Golden Ball – for top scorer and best player respectively.
Ma's personal accolades may have provided a modicum of consolation for China as DPR Korea pulled off a title victory that remains one of the biggest upsets in the tournament but both of the East Asian nations that contested the 2006 final can be proud of the part they played in the historical final that highlighted Asia's emergence as a major player in women's football.