Brazil broken as Koreans reach final
A goal in the dying minutes from defender Korea DPR's Ri Un Hyang put paid to Brazil's dreams of glory at Russia 2006 and sealed victory for her side in the first of today's two semi-finals at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Championship.
For the heartbroken Auriverde, the loss was particularly hard to take after semi-final defeats at the last two editions of the tournament, although their coach, Jorge Barcelos , was honest enough to confess that they hadn't done quite enough.
"Korea was a very strong opponent today, especially Kim Kyong Hwa ," he admitted. "For most of the match, we had to concentrate on defending and didn't have so many chances ourselves."
A delighted Choe Kwang Sok, meanwhile, gave a simple explanation for his side's unexpected run to the final. "The secret of our success is that we work very hard," he said succinctly. "There are big expectations of us now from our supporters, so we keep running and running and running."
Barcelos had changed his forward line for the game, opting to start with Adriane, scorer of the winning goal in the quarter-final win over Nigeria , in place of Pamela. For his part, Choe also made one change, bringing in striker O Kum Hui for Kim Hyang Mi.
Unfortunately, aside from some speculative shots from distance that failed to trouble the respective keepers, there was little action of note in the first half hour as both sides tentatively sized each other up.
Brazil, somewhat uncharacteristically, were lacking in precision with a lot of their early passing. Fabiana, for her part, enjoyed little success in trying to control long balls in the face of close attention from the more physically imposing Korean defenders, though the striker did get one sight of goal early on after running onto a through ball. However, after managing to work herself an opening inside the box, the lively striker was dispossessed by the Korea DPR captain Hong Myong Gum just as she shaped to shoot.
It was during this sustained spell of pressure that the Canarinhas came close to breaking the deadlock. A measured cross from Maurine fell to Adriane, who had her shot blocked, only for Fabiana to blast over the rebound.
"In the first half, it was a normal game and we had two chances to score, but didn't take them" Barcelos bemoaned afterwards. "Who knows what would have happened if we had scored?"
Koreans sparked into action
Momentarily on the back foot, the Asian side came back strongly. Right on the half-hour mark, Kim Kyong Hwa rattled the crossbar with a free kick from all of 30 metres.
Attacking midfielder Kim was back for more just minutes later, but her powerful effort form out on the left was tipped out for a corner by Barbara .
Brazil again looked vulnerable from the ensuing corner and once more had their keeper to thank for keeping the match scoreless. There was still time for another first-half scare for the South Americans, with only Danielle's goalmouth clearance from a point-blank Hong effort sending the teams in level.
Ten minutes after the restart and Barbara was again called into action, this time diving bravely at the feet of Kil Son Hui after Kim Song Hui had powered in a low-flying corner kick. The latter proved a constant headache for the Auriverde defence with her pace, fierce determination and powerful long range shots.
"It was a tough game," the Player of the Match said afterwards, "but we won because we worked hard every second to fulfil our coach's expectations and those of our fans."
Brazil were finding it increasingly difficult to find respite from the tireless Koreans, who by now were dominating possession. The Asian side looked particularly dangerous from dead-ball situations, which were always executed by Kim Kyong. For their part, Brazil's forwards were struggling to make their presence felt and seemed unable to shake off their markers.
Renata Costa , largely a peripheral figure in midfield, tried to catch Jon Myong Hui napping with a couple of long-range efforts but failed to pack anything like enough punch into her shots to cause any real concern. Erika had slightly better fortune after some neat build-up play in the Korean box by Fabiana and Pamela, but in the end sent her shot went wide.
The winning goal would eventually come from defender Ri Un Hyang, who was on hand to steer a low ball past Barbara after a flicked-on corner led to a scramble in the six-yard box (0-1, 87').
After seeing off France with an injury time clincher in the quarter-finals, the match was the second in succession that Korea DPR had won in the dying minutes, but Choe was quick to play down suggestions that this can be attributed to superior fitness or mental strength.
"I don't think (the fact we are winning by late goals) is so much because of our physical shape or mental courage," he said afterwards, "but just because we always keep trying."
Player of the Match: KIL SON HUI
"She's a very hard-working player who is capable of starting a huge variety of attacking moves. She's also a genuine playmaker and a physically powerful individual who never gives in," Fran Hilton-Smith (RSA), FIFA Technical Study Group .