Korea Republic
© AFC

The past
In the inaugural FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2008, Korea Republic reached the quarter-finals after topping their group by defeating Brazil 2-1 and England 3-0 respectively despite a 2-1 reverse at the hands of Nigeria in the opening match. However, the USA proved too strong for the little Taeguk Ladies, as the Americans breezed past the South Koreans with a 4-2 victory in the last eight en route to the final.

The present
Having finished fourth and third at the past two continental finals, Korea Republic were aiming for a better result entering last year’s Asian championship. And Choi Duk-Joo’s side made their intentions clear by defeating Myanmar and hosts Thailand 8-0 respectively, with striker Yeo Min-Ji scoring a hat-trick in each game. They went on the top the group after a 2-2 draw with reigning Asian and world champions Korea DPR. Yeo then netted the only goal of the semi-final against arch-rivals Japan, before scoring a brace in a 4-0 defeat of the North Koreans in the final in Bangkok.

The future
Despite leading his charges to the continental championship in only six months since taking the reins, coach Choi Duk-Joo remains humble but confident as usual. “I will try to motivate the players once again to challenge a higher level so they cannot rest on their laurels,” he said. “I believe in their abilities and they have the confidence as Asian champions, so with a little bit of luck we’ll be able to achieve good result. Our goal is, of course, winning the world title.”

Facts and figures
Former stars
Ji So-Yun and Lee Hyun-Young

Key players
Yeo Min-Ji and Kim Da-Hye

Qualifying statistics
Korea Republic lifted their first Asian trophy at the third edition of the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship last year, with a record of 4 wins and a draw at the finals during which they scored 23 goals while conceding only 2.

The numbers game
10 – the number of goals Yeo Min-Ji netted during the 2009 AFC U-16 Women’s Championship in Thailand, where she finished as the tournament’s top scorer and the Most Valuable Player.