A party roared in the stands in support of the Soca Princesses at Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva this evening, but the well-loved hosts came up short, losing 1-0 against defending champions Korea DPR, who secured second spot in Group A of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Trinidad and Tobago 2010.
The home fans were doused with cold water early on in this battle for a slot in the quarter-finals. In the first minutes of play, the Soca Princesses committed a foul near the corner. Korea DPR’s Pong Son Hwa took the free-kick, launching the ball to the near post where Kim Su Gyong sent it home with a sharp flick from close range in the third minute of play.
From there on, the Asians, with their direct and disciplined style under coach Ri Song Gun, out-paced the local favourites, their best chances coming from the right wing with a potent trio of Kims - Kim Nam Hui assisting Kim Kum Jong and Kim Su Gyong. Trinidad were frequently surrendering possession to their opponents, and their efforts to take the offensive were timid at best, relying on long balls that the focused Korean defence had no trouble handling. Thirty minutes in, keeper Linfah Jones thwarted a good chance as the T&T defence were stretched, throwing herself at Kim Nam Hui’s feet to block a clear chance at goal. After collecting a well-placed long ball from Diarra Simmons, Kayla Taylor shot wide in the dying moments of the first half.
The second half proved more of the same: Korea playing a patient game, keeping tight control of the spaces and Trinidad lacking ideas of how to break the pressure. Kim Su Gyong went for a second goal right after the break which went wide. The Asians remained on the attack as keeper Jones looked to have saved a sure goal just before Kim Kum Jong brought the ball into the penalty box. Kim Yun Mi had a chance in the 75th minute, but fired the ball over the bar. Jones showed great reflexes in blocking a close-range shot to the corner of the net by Kim Su Gyong in the 84th minute.
In the last five minutes, and with the T&T fans still roaring for their team, the Princesses had their best chance for an equaliser when Jasmine Sampson launched a powerful shot on goal which the Korean keeper deflected off the crossbar. But it wasn’t enough. North Korea will go on to play Germany in the quarter-finals, hoping to defend their title. For the hosts, the loss didn’t prevent the fans from celebrating their girls with a generous and grateful ovation as they walked off the field in their farewell to the competition.