Japan and Korea DPR have become the first Asian teams to qualify for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica 2014. The duo secured their places by advancing to the final of the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship in Nanjing, China.
Japan progressed in style with a 6-0 semi-final win over Thailand, who had shocked their Group C rivals – most notably Korea Republic – by topping the section. Captain Sugita took top billing with a hat-trick for the rampant Young Nadeshiko, who had qualified ahead of Iran in Group D.
The North Koreans, for their part, had cruised through their section but faced a tough task in the last four against China. The hosts had seen off Australia and Bahrain en route to the semi-finals, but they met their match against a team that ran out 3-1 winners thanks to goals from Ju Hyo Sim and Ri Hae Yon (2).
Japan and Korea DPR will now face off for the title on Sunday, while China will take on Thailand the same day with the third and final spot at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup – which takes place between 15 March and 5 April 2014 - up for grabs.