Korea Republic may have been left facing a tough mission following the Official Draw for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Germany 2010 last week, but coach Choi In-Chul remains undaunted by the task. Despite being pitted with reigning champions USA, African qualifiers Ghana and rising European nation Switzerland, Choi is in fact relishing the prospect of facing some of the world’s best, and leading his side beyond group stage.
“I think the group is okay. We have to play the world champions, but we’ve already prepared for that. Our initial target is to reach the quarter-finals, which ought to be a realistic goal,” Choi told FIFA.com after the draw in Dresden.
Although Germany 2010 will only be Korea Republic’s second appearance at the world stage, following a group stage exit at Thailand 2004, Choi is confident that the current crop of the Little Taeguk Ladies has what it takes to compete at this age level.
“Our players have never experienced the world stage but they have the winning mentality to even conquer the world,” says Choi, whose team finished second in qualifying overcoming regional giants China PR in the process. “We also believe in our qualities, which are clearly in the areas of technique and skill. Whatever, we’re really looking forward to [playing in] Germany with its superb blend of great atmosphere and glorious footballing history.”
Such confidence is based on his time spent with his young charges over the past two years since Choi took the reins, as he explained: “I’ve spent a long time on strengthening the defensive organisation since I took charge of the U-18 national team that played a defence-oriented game with effective counter-attacks. Now that the team has grown into a more mature U-20 side, they can build up from short passes as they have better organised defence at the back.”
Choi’s confidence and focus on his own group, perhaps reflective of his confidence despite the quality of opposition the South Koreans will face in July. “I cannot say much about our opponents as we don’t know about them at the moment, but we will collect the information we need to prepare for the finals,” said Choi. “Basically, every country has their own culture and character and I think we can tell their styles in general. We’ll be prepared for that, and we won’t have to fear anyone.”
Captain Kim Hye-Ri did not only echo her coach’s view but stepped forward to reveal her lofty ambitions in this year’s world finals. “Although we don’t know many things about them, we all have the will and confidence that we can do it,” said the centre-back who turns 20 in June.
“As for the Americans we’re physically inferior to them, but I think we’re stronger in terms of skills and mentality. So we’re not scared at all. Our goal is to win the World Cup but reaching the quarter-finals is of course our first goal,” she concluded.