Japan, Korea DPR on the cusp

Japan and Korea DPR are in touching distance of securing passage to the 2012 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in London after claiming important wins in the third round of Asian qualifying in Jinan, China.

In the match of the day, world champions Japan notched a 1-0 victory against Asian champions Australia, to reverse the scoreline between the pair in last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup™ qualifiers.

A lone strike from the Nadeshiko’s Nahomi Kawasumi just past the hour mark was enough to separate the teams. Australia goalkeeper Lydia Williams was in inspired form throughout the match, but could do nothing to stop a close-range shot from Japan’s two-goal Germany 2011 semi-final heroine.

Korea DPR claimed a crucial 3-2 comeback win to all but extinguish the hopes of their southern neighbours.

Korea Republic’s Lee Hyun-Young opened the scoring only for Ra Un Sim to equalise by the ten minute mark. The advantage blew out to 3-1 by the hour mark with Choe Mi Gyong and Hwang Song-Mi netting, before Korea Republic pulled one back on 62 minutes thanks to a Jo Un Mi own goal.

Host nation China maintained their slim hopes with a hard-working 2-0 victory against Thailand, following consecutive scoreless draws. You Jia opened the scoring five minutes before the interval with Xu Yuan doubling the margin with ten minutes remaining.

After three rounds, Japan have nine points followed by DPR Korea, who are two points behind with the pair currently holding down the two qualification berths. China have five points, Australia three, Korea Republic one and Thailand are yet to open their account.