In the suffocating humidity of Wuhan, China, the Korean National Women’s Team secured a 1-0 victory over their Chinese hosts in a display of domination in the first half, and consolidation in the second half. A brilliant attacking display followed by a brave defensive effort in the second frame was enough to put give the South Korean women all three points to open their EAFF Cup.
— 대한축구협회(KFA) (@theKFA) August 1, 2015
A bit of a shake up in the lineup, some experimentation by Yoon Deokyeo. Cho Sohyun left on bench, while Lee Mina started in Ji Soyun’s role (of course, Ji is playing for her club Chelsea Ladies’). Lee actually proved to be pretty incredible with her wonderful skill and quickness. Lots of the qualities Ji Soyun displays could be seen in the Icheon Daekyo Red Angles number 10.
Unfortunately, I was unable to catch the first 25 minutes of the half, but it sounds like it was a pretty impressive one. Thanks to tweets by Jinseok, it is revealed that the Taeguk Nangja dominated the match from the get go. A penalty shout in the 4th minute as Jung Seolbin was pulled down in the box went uncalled, while Lee Mina was through on Wang Fei in the 13th minute but could not settle the ball down before Tiang Jiali blocked her shot.
The 27th minute finally saw the South Korean ladies break through and take the lead/.. An errant touch by a Chinese defender allowed center forward Jung Seolbin to pick up the ball on the top of the penalty box, and she did not disappoint, driving the ball past Wang Fei into the top corner of the net. A blistering shot that was simply unstoppable, and a poor Chinese side saw themselves justly 1-0 down.
The Chinese manager made a substitute immediately after the goal, something that is not completely abnormal to see. This same manager made such peculiarly reactive substitutions in the Women’s World Cup.
The game slowed down a bit more from after this point, with no major chances on either side. The stifling heat of Wuhan may have had something to do with slowing the tempo of play. Despite this heat, the Korean women put on a display of crisp passing, excellent positioning and off the ball movement, winning every battle and outshooting the hosts 7-1. A sparse crowd was left bemused at halftime as the Korean ladies left with a well-deserved 1-0 that was signing the praises of even normally-stern manager-cum-commentator Huh Jungmoo.
Following the halftime break, the Chinese were much more threatening. Perhaps it was a lack of stamina, or a strengthened Chinese resolved, or Yoon Deokyeo deciding to weather the storm, but the hosts found themselves on the front foot far more often in the second half. The first 10 minutes however of this half will be more remembered for China’s general ineptitude in the Korean half. There was no real threat, despite having more of the ball.
However, as the game waned on, China began finding its chances and the Korean goalkeeper Kim Jungmi was called into action. She fisted away a dangerous cross in the 55th minute while the Taeguk Ladies were playing with 10 women, before denying a big Chinese chance on the far post in the 69th minute after a deep cross that had everybody scrambling. Not more than 7 minutes later, China once again threatened the Korean goalframe with a blistering shot from distance that Kim once again pushed over the bar in admirable fashion.
By this point in the game, the Korean ladies’ first half display of crisp, accurate passing had been replaced by a defensive approach allowing the Chinese to pile on the pressure as every minute ticked closer to the full time whistle.
As news of Ji Soyun’s goal in the Women’s FA Cup final came in – putting her Chelsea Ladies 1-0 up at Wembley against Notts County, Kim Jungmi’s tuhon was on full display once again in Wuhan. After a full-body collision while dealing with a threatening Chinese cross, the Korean goalkeeper who made headlines at the Women’s World Cup for bringing a whole new definition to “turning the other cheek” once again showed her incredible toughness. After being down for four minutes in pain, and after the trainer signaled that a goalkeeper substitution was going to be likely, Kim shook off the sign and the pain to battle through the final minutes off the match.
Although it seemed like she would have nothing else to do through the eight minutes of injury time, because her teammates were threatening Wang Fei at the other end of the pitch with two dangerous chances – a bouncing shot by Lee Mina and a far post lob by Kang Yoomi – she was indeed called into action one last time, in the last seconds of the match, with the ball rattling around the Korean box and falling to the feet of a Chinese player with only Kim Jungmi to beat. But once again, the Korean keeper managed to stifle the shot of the Chinese player.
Seconds later, the final whistle blew. The team had taken a beating in the second half, after a brilliant first half, with centreback Shim Seoyeon off injured and goalkeeper Kim Jungmi having a lot to deal with in the second half including an injury, but the Korean women were still able to secure the victory.
The table looks like this after one round of play in the Women’s bracket of the EAFF Cup – remember, it’s round robin only. In the earlier game, the North Korean women defeated a surprisingly shocking Nadeshiko Japan side 4-2.
#EAFFCup table for the Women after MD1:
1. North Korea (3 pts, +2)
2. South Korea (3 pts, +1)
3. China (0 pts, -1)
4. Japan (0 pts, -2)
— Taeguk Warriors (@taeguk_warrior) August 1, 2015
That Japanese team is next for the women – they defeated them in the final game of the 2013 East Asian Cup that gave our neighbors up north the title… perhaps this time, the South Korean ladies can better the Japanese to set themselves on course for a championship winning match against North Korea? Only time will tell. Remember to follow the Tavern tomorrow as the men’s phase of the East Asian Cup will be underway with Stielike’s men taking on China once again. There will be a match preview, live tweeting, a report and an analysis. Thanks for the read, and Jalgayo from the TSQ – temporarily Tavern Studio Gangwon – & remember to follow our coverage of the men’s match tomorrow!!