It was not Kim Jungmi’s day on Sunday. First, the Korea Republic goalkeeper was on the wrong end of a team-mate’s elbow when attempting to clear a French corner-kick, an accidental clash that had her feeling decidedly groggy for a few minutes.
Then, just before half-time in the Round-of-16 tie, she inadvertently clashed heads with an opponent, receiving a nasty blow on the other side of the face and falling to the floor once more.
On both occasions the brave Jungmi dusted herself down and got on with the game, though she was powerless to prevent the formidable France attack from finding the back of her net three times and sending the South Koreans tumbling out of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™.
“It’s not as bad as it looks,” said the smiling keeper to FIFA.com, clutching a bag of ice to her bruised right cheek. Though her cheekbone was still intact, a big bruise had emerged in the place where her colleague’s elbow connected with her.
“I thought for a moment that they might be serious injuries, but I recovered quickly enough from both blows and I didn’t have any problem carrying on,” she said.
The mental blows the French inflicted on the custodian and her team-mates might take longer to recover from, however. Trailing by two goals inside the first eight minutes, the Taeguk Ladies never got into the game, much to Jungmi’s disappointment.
“Conceding those goals so early really threw us off balance,” explained the 30-year-old. “It was tough and we didn’t have a chance to settle into the match, to assess their style of play and get used to the pace of the game. France are a very strong and fast team.”
Having won through to the knockout phase of the women’s world finals for the first time in their history, the South Koreans were quickly brought back down to earth by their European rivals.
“We went into the game feeling very pleased with ourselves at getting through such a tough group,” said Jungmi, summing up the mood in the camp. “We’d hoped to do a little bit better and we’re very sorry we weren’t able to live up the expectations of our fans."
Drawing conclusions on their Canada 2015 campaign, she added: “I think this experience shows that we have to be more grounded. We came here thinking we were very strong, but the best teams in the world are here and it’s a very difficult challenge. We’ve learned our lessons.”
Korea Republic’s Canadian education began with a 2-0 defeat to Brazil, a result that was followed by another setback when they conceded a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica. Despite then coming from behind to beat Spain 2-1 and check into the last 16, they were no match for a well-oiled and experienced France side packed with players who ply their trade in the powerful French league and who have spent many years together.
Contemplating that difference in class and know-how, Jungmi had this to say: “There are a lot of areas we need to work on if we’re going to develop women’s football in Korea. We have to train very hard and take on the best national teams to become more competitive. We have to prepare better for these types of competitions, so that we have more chance of success.”
As Jungmi showed in picking herself off the floor not once but twice, however, Korea Republic have what it takes to ride the blows and come back stronger.