Australia and Korea DPR are the first Asian nations to reach the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ after narrow semi-finals victories against Japan and China PR respectively. The pair won through to the final of the AFC Asian Women’s Cup with 1-0 wins to leave Japan and China to battle for the remaining qualification berth on Sunday.
Having lost to Australia at the same stage of the competition four years ago, Japan had a point to prove and dominated the contest but were unable to translate territorial dominance onto the scoreboard. Australia striker Kate Gill proved the hero scoring moments before half-time against the run of play, slotting home from the edge of the penalty area with the goalkeeper off her line after the defence failed to clear the ball.
Japan hit the frame of the goal once in each half through Kyoko Yano and Yukari Kinga, while Yuki Nagasato missed a golden chance during the first half with only the goalkeeper to beat. The result was Japan’s first defeat for nearly two years dating back to the Beijing Olympics.
The second semi-final saw a brave fight from tournament host nation China eventually ended by Korea DPR in extra time. Defending champions Korea DPR dominated the semi-final clash against the hosts from outset to finish but they had to wait until 109 minutes into the contest to seal the victory when Kim Kyong-Hwa scored the only goal.
Amid a catalogue of openings on goal for Korea DPR, perhaps the best fell to Jo Yun-Mi whose shot deflected narrowly wide in the first half. Cheered on by a vociferous home crowd in Chengdu, China began the second half with more resolve but goal sightings remained at a premium. The Koreans continued to press hard and their efforts eventually paid off when Kim Kyong-Hwa unleashed a low drive past Zhang Yanru for the winner.