- Korea DPR have had to fight all the way to reach last eight
- Defending champions face France next
- We speak to their goalkeeper Kim Yong-Sun, a hero in the win over Brazil
The FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 has been anything but a stroll for reigning champions Korea DPR. After sweeping the board in 2016, when their U-17 and U-20 sides won their respective World Cup competitions, the Koreans have been made to suffer in keeping their hopes of a successful defence alive at the first of the year’s two major women’s youth football competitions.
Korea DPR’s most recent group phases compared
|Jordan 2016||Papua New Guinea 2016||France 2018|
|2 wins, 1 draw||3 wins||2 wins, 1 loss|
|7 goals for, 3 against||13 goals for, 3 against||5 goals for, 5 against|
|Result: Champions||Result: Champions||*Qualified for quarter-finals|
It was little wonder, then, that goalkeeper Kim Yong-Sun and her team-mates wore a mix of joy and relief on their faces when German referee Bibiana Steinhaus brought their final group match against Brazil to an end. It was a game the East Asians won narrowly to advance to the last eight, where they will now take on the tournament hosts.
“I was a little nervous because I knew I had to save the team,” said a smiling Kim. And save them she did, withstanding wave after wave of Brazilian attacks to allow her side to snatch a 2-1 victory with a stoppage-time winner.
The highlight of the goalkeeper’s performance came when she pulled off a miraculous save to keep out a Valeria header, while her stop from a Geyse Ferreira drive also caught the eye. “I’m delighted to have made my little contribution to the team’s success,” said the modest custodian.
Goalkeeping can be a tough job sometimes. When things go wrong, as they did for the Koreans when they lost 3-1 to England in their opening match, it is always the player between the posts that comes under scrutiny. And when they go well, it is usually the goalscorers who get the credit. Yet, despite it all, Kim has never wanted to play anywhere else. “I’ve always been a goalkeeper, right from the start,” she said with a smile, before explaining why, this time with a laugh: “I wanted to be the most important player in the team.”
Korea DPR’s next stop on their arduous France 2018 journey comes against the hosts, a feared side that are unbeaten so far, after winning two and drawing one of their group games. Confidence remains high in the Korean camp, however, as Kim explained: “We’ll do our very best to win the games we’ve got left. We’ll give it everything we’ve got.” And if need be, she will don her superhero’s cape once more and show that there is no position more crucial in a football team than that occupied by the goalkeeper.