Champions at the inaugural edition of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand in 2008, Korea DPR now have only a bronze medal to aim for after their 2-1 semi-final defeat against Japan here at Trinidad and Tobago 2010.
And though disappointment reigns in the North Korean camp, given the level of pre-tournament expectation, their opponents in Saturday’s match for third place are clearly delighted to have reached this stage. Indeed, competition debutants Spain went mighty close to reaching the title decider only to fall to a narrow 2-1 last-four reverse to Korea Republic, and they will be determined to strike a blow for Spanish women’s football by clinching the final place on the podium.
Spain-Korea DPR, Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain, Saturday 25 September, 15:00 (local time)
Though they will feel their vibrant semi-final display against the Taeguk Ladies may have merited a place in the final, Las Rojitas remain fiercely proud of having proved themselves among the world’s top four sides at this level. Next on the agenda is to claim a historic bronze medal to add to a trophy cabinet already containing the spoils of victory from the UEFA U-19 Women’s Championship 2004 and the UEFA U-17 Women’s Championship 2010. Will the Spanish girls’ skilful and cohesive attacking play be enough to seal third place?
Out to deny them that satisfaction are genuine heavyweights of the women’s game in Korea DPR, whose disciplined 4-4-2 formation combines with a direct and high-tempo brand of football to make maximum use of the power and skill of strikers Kim Kum-Jong and Kim Su-Gyong. Their undoing at Trinidad and Tobago 2010 has been at the back, however, with coach Ri Song-Gun now having to find alternatives for three injured defenders as well as reviving the morale of a squad unaccustomed to the bitter taste of defeat.
11 – The number of consecutive games at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup during which Korea DPR have got on the scoresheet, a sequence starting with their very first encounter at New Zealand 2008 on October 29 that year and continuing through to 21 September 2010.
What they said
“It’s a huge achievement for Spain to be among the world’s top four sides. We’ll treat Saturday’s game like a huge final, even though it’s a consolation game, because we really want to take third place on the podium. It was a bonus just to reach the quarter-finals and so taking a bronze medal home with us would be huge, though I’m already really happy with the job my players have done so far.” Spain coach Jorge Vilda.
“Though we may not have made the final, we’ll do our very best to win the bronze medal. We’ve got three defenders injured and that’ll make things tricky for us, but we’ll work hard to find solutions and be in the best shape possible for our last game.” Korea DPR coach Ri Song-Gun.