Koreans maul Mexico to finish top
Korea DPR produced a thoroughly professional performance to sweep aside their Mexican opponents on their way to a place in the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Championship Russia 2006.
The Koreans' comfortable 4-0 win at Moscow's Dynamo stadium on 24 August saw them top Group C with three wins from three games, scoring ten goals and conceding none.
The Koreans kept faith in the playing system that has served them so well thus far, with Choe Kwang Sok eschewing wholesale changes to his starting eleven. In stark contrast, Choe's opposite number in the Mexico camp, Leonardo Cuellar, brought in five new players, including a new goalkeeper, to stiffen up a defensive line breached no less than nine times by reigning champions Germany.
Unfortunately for Cuellar, his tactical system failed to bring any joy to the beleaguered Mexicans. With up to six defenders at any one time and two defensive midfielders, Tricolor forwards Monica Ocampo and Charlyn Corral were completely starved of service, forced to tussle for scraps against the powerful Korean backline.
Right from the off, midfielders Kim Kyong Hwan and Kim Chun Hui were given the freedom of the park with which to wreak havoc. This resulted in Mexico failing to register a single shot on target in the first 45 minutes, while Korea DPR found the back of the net on three occasions. "I just did what the coach asked me to do, and worked hard at helping the team," was the modest verdict of Player of the Match Kim Chun Hui.
"The team played better today, if you compare it with our previous game, but we still didn't have enough about us to win the match," admitted Cuellar after the final whistle. "Korea are a very difficult side to play against; they have very quick, skilful players and play very well as a team. They put together some very classy moves and are clinical in front of goal. They play like a well-oiled machine."
Corral and Ocampo fail to make inroads
The opener came just after the half-hour mark, Mexico defender Isabel Valdez carelessly giving away possession in a dangerous area. Kim Hyang Mi took full advantage to go one-on-one with the Mexican goalkeeper Erika Venegas, finishing the job with an angled drive (0-1, 33').
It was then the turn of Kim Kyong Hwan to show that she has an eye for goal to go with her undoubted playmaking skills. After Korea had earned a free-kick some 25 metres out, it was Kim who stepped up to thump an unstoppable drive into the top corner (0-2, 35').
As Ocampo and Corral gave chase to a series of hopeful long balls in a vain attempt to get their side back in the game, the Koreans continued to up the pressure in and around the Mexican box. Up popped Kim again, making space in the crowded area to fire off a shot which came back off the foot of the post. Fortunately for Korea DPR, there was Kil Son Hui to snap up the rebound (0-3, 42').
The second period followed much the same pattern, although the Asian side did ease some of the pressure on their opponent's area, allowing the Mexicans a little more freedom to manoeuvre. Even so, it was not long before they increased their advantage, O Kum Hui beating Venegas to Kim Hyang Mi's centre and heading home (0-4, 59').
"We've been following the Mexicans closely since the start of the tournament," Choe said afterwards. "We didn't know much about them beforehand, and today I thought that they played some very good football. Our players have proven once more that they are in excellent shape and we don't fear anybody."
With the three points safely in the bag and time running out, Choe's charges ceded some of the initiative to their Mexican opponents, clearly saving energy for their quarter-final clash.
Despite this, the Mexicans were still unable to create any real danger. Their first clear opportunity arrived with just five minutes left on the clock. Nancy Gandarilla found herself one-on-one with Jon Myong Hui, only for Ri Jin Ok to appear as if from nowhere with a last-gasp saving tackle.
Player of the Match: KIM CHUN HUI
"She's got such great vision and she's particularly adept at getting involved with play both in defensive and attacking areas. She laid on some top-class passes today and made an outstanding contribution to the team's performance," Connie Selby (AUS), FIFA Technical Study Group .