Korea DPR
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Korea DPR made a stunning debut on the Asian stage by winning the AFC U-16 Women's Championship in March 2007, strengthening the country's burgeoning reputation in the wake of their U-20 side conquering the world at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup the previous year.

The North Koreans more than made up for the lack of international exposure with their trademark physical strength and never-say-die attitude throughout an impressive campaign. Captain Jo Myong-Hui led the tournament's meanest defence, while attacking midfielder Ho Un-Byol, who would later go on to take part in Korea DPR's FIFA Women's World Cup campaign, also shone with three goals.

However, the brightest starlet in the squad was forward Yun Hyon-Hi, who claimed both the MVP and top scorer awards after bagging a total of seven goals. The talented youngster, who plays her club football for April 45 Sports Group, opened her account with the only goal of the game against Japan, before scoring a hat-trick against Thailand. Yun added a brace in the semi-final clash with Korea Republic, and then applied her name to the scoresheet once again in the final with an early opener against Japan.

In their very first attempt, Korea DPR claimed the Asian crown and a ticket to New Zealand, dethroning champions Japan in the process. This achievement, with an unblemished record of four wins in as many games and 15 goals scored and only two conceded, was not only an indication of their continental dominance but a warning of their capabilities at New Zealand 2008.

The North Koreans got off to a flying start with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over reigning champions Japan in their group opener, with Yun Hyon-Hi scoring the winner in the 11th minute. Despite an early blow in the next game against Thailand, Korea DPR bounced back in a devastating fashion with Yun's hat-trick and Ho Un-Byol's brace in the first half. Subsequently, a 7-1 win put them on top of the table and into the last four.

The all-Korean semi-final was a similar story. Although they found themselves behind just before the half-hour mark through an own goal, Yun made it 1-1 with a clinical finish from a narrow angle before the break. Ho put the North Koreans ahead in the 63rd minute, before substitute Ri Un-Ae and Yun completed a memorable 4-1 win over their neighbours.

Yun prolonged her scoring streak in the final against Japan, heading home the opener as early as the eighth minute as the match proved to be a more one-sided affair than the sides' previous encounter. With the defending champions struggling desperately for an equaliser, it was tall forward Jon Myong-Hwa who doubled the lead with a 56th-minute strike before dashing any hopes of a Japense comeback by making it 3-0 with 20 minutes remaining.

Although little was known about him before Korea DPR's debut in the continental championship, Ri Ui-Ham proved himself well capable of leading his country to the world finals. With his team seemingly well equipped to emulate the recent successes of U-20 and senior women's teams at their respective FIFA tournaments, New Zealand could be the perfect stage for him to build up his career. Calm and prudent under any circumstances, Ri believes his team can take the ultimate prize at the tournament if they play to their full potential.

What they said
"The players are actually not so good but because they have loyalty to Korea in their hearts, they were able to win. Whenever a Korean team wins in an international tournament like this, the people are very happy," Ri Ui Ham, after winning the AFC U-16 Women's Championship in March 2007.