- Holders Korea DPR began their Uruguay 2018 campaign with 4-1 defeat by Germany
- They're back on track after a 3-0 win over USA
- FIFA.com identifies three reasons for the turnaround
There was no disguising the smiles on the faces of the Korea DPR players as they left the stadium in Colonia del Sacramento following their 3-0 win over USA. Their eyes gleamed with confidence, the victory having thrown Group C wide open again in the quest for a quarter-final spot.
Three days ago, the expressions on the faces of the very same players in the same stadium were rather different. Having arrived at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Uruguay 2018 as defending champions, there was disappointment, dejection and bewilderment in the wake of their 4-1 reverse to Germany in their opening fixture. As a result, the pressure was enormous going into their meeting with USA, with defeat potentially ending their tournament at the group stage.
However, the Asians hit their stride right from the off and were superior in every department. So how did they manage to return to winning ways with such an impressive performance? FIFA.com outlines three reasons for the turnaround.
1. Nerves under control
Against Germany, Korea DPR looked nervous from the very start, the pressure of arriving at the competition as reigning champions seemingly inhibiting the team. "My players were much too flustered," said head coach Song Sung-Gwon afterwards. "For that reason we were unable to do what we set out to do. We need to work on that. We need to give them strength."
A glance in the history books may have helped in that regard, as the Koreans likewise arrived at the 2010 edition as defending champions, only to lose their first game to Nigeria (3-2). Nevertheless, they won their remaining group outings and progressed as far as the semi-finals before returning home.
Against USA, Korea DPR shook off any nerves in a rain-drenched encounter and put on a forceful showing. Their defence was solid throughout and never gave the Americans any room to showcase their attacking prowess.
2. Set-pieces and chance conversion
The margin of defeat to Germany did not reflect what was for large spells an evenly balanced match. The difference was that the Germans made the most of their chances, clinically finishing twice in the first half to go into the break 2-0 up. The Koreans were unable to convert their opportunities and struggled to get back into the game after the interval against a confident German side.
Korea DPR were much more ruthless in front of goal against USA, primarily because of their set-pieces. The team's second and third goals, scored by Kim Yun-Ok and Kim Kyong-Yong, both came from corners as dead ball situations proved to be a successful weapon against the American backline, helping them translate their superiority into goals.
3. Attacking flexibility
Korea DPR were unpredictable when getting forward against USA. Kim Yun-Ok pulled the strings in midfield and drove her team on, spreading passes across the pitch as well as popping up on both flanks and with dangerous runs into the box. Her goal to make it 2-0 was no less than she deserved for her performance.
The Asians were also particularly threatening down the left wing. Choe Kum-Ok was a tireless presence up and down the flank and delivered a number of teasing crosses into the middle. She exploited the space afforded to her by the USA defence and was a constant menace throughout.