THE DAY REPLAYED – Before today, only two teams had reached the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup final more than once. Now that same duo can look ahead to a third after Korea DPR and Japan made light work of Venezuela and Spain respectively in the last four.
Though the Asians had begun the day as narrow favourites, few would have seen them achieving identically resounding 3-0 victories over such formidable semi-final opponents. Yet it was with a degree of ease that they reached the showpiece match of Jordan 2016, with the North Koreans silencing the erstwhile irrepressible Deyna Castellanos before the holders, even without several star players, cruised past the team they beat to take the title two years ago.
Now another final rematch awaits as Japan and Korea DPR meet for the first time since battling it out for the Asian title last November.
Manama: Vietnam made a winning start to their 2016 AFC U-19 Championship campaign on Friday evening as goals from Ha Duc Chinh and Doan Van Hau sealed a 2-1 victory over DPR Korea at Khalifa Sports City Stadium.
Duc Chinh scored with 20 minutes remaining in a tight game to give the Vietnamese the lead before Van Hau secured a vital second in the 90th minute to secure victory for the South East Asian side, leaving DPR Korea’s Ryang Hyon-ju to score an injury time consolation.
Vietnam started brightly, with Hoang Anh Tuan’s side on the front foot from the beginning and carving out the better of the few chances created in the opening 45 minutes.
It was an error by DPR Korea goalkeeper Ri In-hak that presented the Vietnamese with their first sight of goal with only 12 minutes of the game gone when his miss-hit clearance fell at the feet of Duong Van Hao and his shot from 20 yards out came back off the post.
The Vietnamese threatened again in the 34th minute when, following a slick build up, Ho Minh Di sent in a curling cross towards Van Hao that the forward headed over the crossbar while two minutes before the break Duc Chinh hit a speculative shot from distance that was well wide.
DPR Korea pressed throughout the first half, but the well-marshalled Vietnamese defensive line held firm, presenting Ri Song-ho’s side with few chances to seriously threaten goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung.
The game continued to be tight and chances were at a premium in the second half until Duc Chinh finally broke the deadlock in the 70th minute. The Vietnamese worked the ball across the field until it came to substitute winger Tran Thanh and his cross found Duc Chinh, who steered his header home.
Three minutes later Duc Chinh should have added a second when, following a scrappy period of play by both teams, Thanh fizzed in a low ball that the unmarked striker should have done better with than steer wide across the face of goal.
DPR Korea picked up the pace as time ticked down, but the Vietnamese always presented a threat on the break and, with the game in the final minute of normal time, Van Hau’s speculative effort from 25 yards flew across goalkeeper Ri and into the goal.
Three minutes into injury time, Ryang finally found the back of the net for DPR Korea, but it was not enough to salvage anything from the game.
Vietnam coach Honag Anh Tuan "I’m very happy today because of this win. Everybody said before kick-off that we were the outsider in this and you can talk about winning or losing, but we have to try 100 percent and today you saw that the players were fighting and I’m very happy today.
"Our mentality was excellent. DPR Korea are a strong team but I spoke with our players and told them the first match is always very difficult psychologically and we showed more fight and that was the key."
DPR Korea coach Ri Song-ho "We played our first match today and unfortunately we lost the game, but I hope the players have learned something from this. It’s their first match and mentally they were a bit nervous and also not prepared physically for this game. My team played how I expected in the game and we have to prepare better for the next game.
"The weather was one of the reasons because the players aren’t used to this because in DPR Korea it’s cold, but most of all they’re not fully recovered from the travel fatigue. I think Vietnam found it easier to adapt than we did, they were still playing in the second half and keeping possession of the ball."
“I knew I was going to score, and what a great feeling it was when I did!”
Ja Un-Yong was still on a high as she spoke to FIFA.com just a few minutes after notching a stoppage-time winner for Korea DPR against Ghana to book her team’s place in the semi-finals of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
In a decidedly tense affair, the North Koreans appeared to be in control of the quarter-final showdown until their African opponents conjured up an equaliser with under ten minutes to play. But as the final seconds ticked by, and the spectre of a penalty shoot-out loomed, Ja Un-Yong pounced on a loose ball in the box. Her dramatic goal secured a memorable victory for the winners of the inaugural U-17 Women’s World Cup, whose last-four appearance is a major improvement on their performance at Costa Rica 2014, where they exited at the group stage.
“We’re here to lift the trophy,” was Ja's decisive verdict. “We performed really well and we deserved to win today. The result was up in the air until the last few seconds, but I knew we were capable of finding a goal before the final whistle went.”
The precocious forward has played a part in all four of Korea DPR’s matches, coming off the bench each time. Her coach, Sin Jong-Bok, regards her as an impact substitute, a role in which the 15-year-old has never disappointed her team-mates and coach.
“I’ve got used to coming on in the second half,” she said. “When I join my team-mates out on the pitch, I try my best to carry out the coach’s instructions, whether I’m attacking or defending. Today, that worked out for me, because I scored the winning goal. I feel like I’m dreaming, and I hope to continue dreaming until we lift the trophy. To achieve that goal, we have to first beat Venezuela in the semi-finals.”
A special celebration Sitting beside her in the interview, Kim Pom-Ui, who had been listening intently to her compatriot, allowed herself a few seconds of thought before assessing her own role in Korea DPR's latest victory. “It was a hard-fought win, but the most important thing at the end of the day is that we got the result we needed," she said. "My task is to create opportunities and provide our attackers with good service, but if I get a chance to score, I don’t hesitate.”
The young midfielder has become known for her remarkable composure at crucial moments during this tournament; when she and her team-mates trailed to England during the group stage, for example, she calmly equalised with a well-struck free-kick. Against Ghana, that coolness was in evidence again as she slotted home a high-pressure penalty kick at a decisive moment.
The talented No9 was part of the North Korean squad that travelled to Costa Rica 2014, and although she remained on the bench throughout, it increased her experience and boosted her confidence. “I got a taste of the atmosphere,” she said. “I was young, but once I got back home, I kept working away at training to earn a spot in the team. And now we’re in the semi-finals.”
Kim Pom-Ui’s enhanced confidence saw her notch four goals at the 2015 AFC U-16 Women’s Championship, from which Korea DPR emerged victorious. “After that tournament, our goal was to reach the U-17 World Cup and go as far as possible. We’re not going to stop here; we want to go all the way.”
There are just two more hurdles for the North Korean playmaker and her team-mates to negotiate before that they can achieve that objective, at which time fans may get another look at the entertaining celebration that followed her goal on Thursday. “We’d already agreed to do it if I scored. I put away the penalty and then I stretched my arms out like a plane and ran, and the girls all copied me. I’m sure it looked great, and we hope to get the chance to repeat it in our upcoming matches."
Zarqa: DPR Korea edged Brazil 1-0 in a tightly-contested encounter at the Prince Mohammed International Stadium in Zarqa in Group C at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Jordan 2016, thanks to Ri Hae-yon's 71st-minute goal.
DPR Korea looked the most likely to score as they demonstrated fluid movement in attack but Brazil's defence played a physical game and were up to the challenge. What Brazil had in defence they lacked up front as head coach Luizao's team struggled to produce any threatening chances on the DPR Korea goal.
Ko Kyong-hui came closest to scoring in the first half for DPR Korea when her fiercely struck effort from about 16 yards out crashed off Brazil's crossbar. DPR Korea coach Sin Jong-bok made a tactical substitution on the half-hour, bringing on Pyon Ung-gyong for Jang Suk-yong.
Shortly after half-time, DPR Korea looked even more threatening and forward Ri almost put her side in front but she flashed her header a foot wide of the upright. For large spells of the second half, both teams lost possession more than they would have liked with several fouls suffered by both sides.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 71st minute when Ri tucked in a low, right-footed shot into the corner from a cross sent in on the ground by substitute Ja Un-yong. Ko pulled off a neat dummy in the build-up to the goal to disguise a shot and open up space for Ri to score her first goal of the tournament and what would eventually prove to be the winner.
Group C has proven to be one of the hardest groups to call with every team still in with a chance of qualification to the knockout phase heading into the final matchday on Saturday when DPR Korea will face Nigeria in Amman and Brazil will take on England in Irbid at the same time (16:00 local).
DPR Korea coach Sin Jong-bok
Although we’re top of the group after today’s win, nothing has yet been decided. We need to prepare well for the next match against Nigeria and get a good result from that game. I knew before the tournament began that ours would be one of the toughest and most evenly-matched groups, and the first two rounds of matches have proven that. I didn’t expect Brazil to be so defensive today. We weren’t prepared for that but we adapted well. The best team doesn’t always win in football, as today’s game between England and Nigeria showed. That’s why I’m delighted we were able to find a way through today and score that vital goal.
Brazil coach Luizao
We knew it would be a tough game against DPR Korea. Our defenders worked hard in the first half, but we occasionally lost our shape after the break. Unfortunately we were unable to keep out the goal despite the fact that DPR Korea scored in exactly the same way against England, which we'd watched on video. But we lacked concentration a little at that point. The difference for DPR Korea today was that they converted their chances better and scored a goal and we didn’t. We’ve got to have greater possession in the next match and dominate play. If we can do that, we’ll beat England.