Twenty-one days after the meeting in the final of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup New Zealand 2008, USA and Korea DPR will cross swords once more in Sunday's Chile 2008 showpiece. Germany and France were their respective victims as the duo set up a repeat of their Auckland showdown, the Koreans needing an injury-time goal to squeeze past the French, while the Americans made the most of Sydney Leroux's solitary strike.
Fortune smiled on the reigning champions on Thursday. After seeing the woodwork deny the French on three separate occasions in the final 15 minutes and just as everyone was readying themselves for extra-time, up popped Ri Ye Gyong to force home a long ball from Pak Kuk Hui and put the Asians in the final of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup for the second time running.
The hard-running Bleuettes had the holders against the ropes at times but were left to rue their wayward finishing. Their opponents showed no such mercy in the box, delighting the small local Asian community with two landmark goals. Ri Un Hyang's header was the 100th strike of the tournament and their late, late winner took the number of goals scored in the history of the competition to 400.
The narrow scoreline barely reflects the Americans' superiority. As it turned out Sydney Leroux's first-half goal - her fifth of the competition - was all Tony DiCicco's side needed to confirm their place in the final. The Germans were undone by the very qualities they are renowned for: defensive rigour and tactical discipline. Not for the first time in the tournament Maren Meinert's girls were hampered by creative shortcomings in midfield. Facing a powerful outfit possessing a sharp cutting edge, they were finally made to pay for those deficiencies today.
Cha Hu Nam (Korea DPR)
The outstanding player of the first half, Cha's galloping runs down the right flank caused the French defence serious problems. All that was missing from her performance was a goal. Thwarted by the bar and then a fine stop from Meline Gerard in the France goal, Cha nevertheless summed up the qualities that have taken Korea DPR back to the final: discipline, commitment and a tireless desire to win.
What they said
"Germany were very strong rivals, but we defended really well and I'm very proud of the job we did. We demand a very high level in women's football in the States and we try to win every tournament. USA and Korea DPR are developing a great rivalry now and the great thing about football is that it brings people together," Tony DiCicco, USA coach.