Ri eyes repeat story
© Foto-net

Having opened her goalscoring account a mere 30 minutes into the holders' first match against Brazil here at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Chile 2008, Korea DPR's Ri Ye Gyong has hardly stopped since. The gifted midfielder has chipped in with strikes against Mexico, Norway and semi-final opponents France to take her personally tally to four and move into second place in the competition's scorers' charts.

On the back of firing the injury-time goal against Les Bleuettes that ensured the reigning champions' place in the final here on Chilean soil, Korea DPR's leading scorer took time out to talk to FIFA.com. "We hadn't played against France before so we didn't know much about their style of play," said the Amrokgang player.

"It was a very tough game against opponents who were very hard to beat," added Ri, whose side rode their luck at times against a French team who hit the woodwork on no fewer than three occasions.

"We were crowned champions at the last edition of this tournament in Russia [in 2006]," says Ri, as the Korean squad prepare to take on fellow women's football heavyweights USA in Sunday's final. "I thoroughly believe that if this team plays to its best it can win this competition again."

I thoroughly believe that if this team plays to its best it can win this competition again.
Ri Ye Gyong is confident of her team's chances.

Her team are just one game away from doing just that, but the path to the title decider has not been easy for coach Choe Kwang Sok's young charges. The Russia 2006 champions kicked off their campaign with a 3-2 defeat against Brazil before a hard-fought 3-2 win over Norway, with coach Choe putting his team's early travails down to fatigue after the lengthy trip to Chile. Once their batteries were recharged, however, the North Koreans were back to their devastating best, putting Mexico to the sword 5-1 before recording a 2-1 quarter-final success against a very strong Japan side.

Next up in the last four were France, who pushed Korea DPR all the way in a pulsating encounter. Yet despite being under the cosh for large chunks of the game, the Asians brought all their experience and finishing skills to bear to notch another 2-1 win. "Having scored a decisive goal in the semis, I want to score another decider in the final too," says 19-year-old Ri, whose 93rd-minute volley broke Les Bleuettes' hearts.

USA be warned; not only are Korea DPR the reigning champions at world U-20 level, the squad touched down in South America buoyed by their compatriots' triumph at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup New Zealand 2008. And who, you may ask, were the beaten finalists back on 16 November in Auckland? None other than the USA.