Wuhan: There were wins for DPR Korea and Korea Republic on the opening day of EAFF (East Asian Football Federation) Women’s East Asian Cup 2015 on Saturday as the North Koreans defeated Japan 4-2 while their southern neighbours edged tournament hosts China 1-0.
The opening match of the four-team round robin tournament brought together DPR Korea, the defending champions, and 2013 runners-up Japan, who retained just six players from the squad that reached the final of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup as head coach Norio Sasaki cast his eye over the next generation of Nadeshiko players.
DPR Korea twice took the lead through Ri Ye-gong only for Rika Masuya and Ami Sugita to level for Japan before a late Ra Un-sim doubled sealed victory for the reigning champions.
“We played the way we had pictured in our minds but gave away two cheap goals near the end,” Japan’s 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2014 AFC Women’s Asian Cup-winning coach told the Japan Times.
“That was a bit of a waste. They tricked us well but this is a good lesson for us.”
DPR Korea should have take a 23rd minute lead but Japan keeper Erina Yamane did well to keep out Kim Un-ju’s penalty, which was awarded after midfielder Mai Kyokawa was adjudged to have fouled North Korean skipper Ra in the area.
However, the defending champions did go into the interval at the Wuhan Sports Centre Stadium with the advantage after Ri got on the end of Yun Song-min’s 36th minute free-kick to slot the opening goal past Yamane.
DPR Korea’s lead lasted just four minutes into the second half when Masuya fired home into the top corner after collecting a free-kick from Megumi Kamionobe, one of the veterans of Japan’s Canada 2015 campaign, before Ri restored her side’s advantage in the 66th minute, with Ra setting up her team-mate’s second of the match following a well-worked move that began with Kim Yun-mi’s sublime pass.
Japan levelled four minute later when Sugita scored her first international goal but again parity was short-lived as Ra went from provider to scorer in the 79th minute before completing her brace and the 4-2 victory just two minutes later.
In Saturday’s later match at the same venue, Jung Seol-bin’s first-half strike was enough to ensure it was a Korean double on the opening day of the championship, with the 25-year-old Incheon Red Angels midfielder’s 27th minute strike enough for Korea Republic to defeat fellow 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup participants China 1-0.