The 2015 Women’s World Cup will either be an extended adventure for the Korean Women’s National Team or an early trip home tonight. They face first time World Cup finalists in Spain. Both teams are tied for points, both need a win to advance from Group E and make history.
KOREA v Spain 7pm EST / 8am Korea Time
Venue: Ottawa Landdowne Stadium
TV in US: Fox Sports2 // TV in Korea: KBS2
[This will be a rolling & brief preview as I’m filling in for Jeremy at the last moment. We’ll try to get more details out later if possible].
Korea is coming at the heels of a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica, and while it was a historic first World Cup point earned for the Korean Eujahs, they were only a minute away from securing all 3 points. Nevertheless, they would’ve still needed a positive result tonight no matter what as it’s still a tight race in Group E.
Here’s an easy to understand tweet from Tim on what Korea needs to do to advance:
— Tim Lee (@korfan12) June 16, 2015
Unlike the men’s tournament, some 3rd place teams in World Cup groupings can still advance. Brazil is sitting pretty with 6 points, have already qualified for the Round of 16, but is expected to win tonight over Costa Rica. The best case scenario at this point, Brazil beats Costa Rica and Korea win over Spain. That would put Korea in sole position of 2nd place and a possibly less formidable opponent in the Round of 16 from Group F.
Tim by the way will be in charge of the Tavern’s twitter handle live tweeting [or as I like to call it: twittercasting] tonight. Have your cell or laptop by your side while watching the game to get real time info on this crucial fixture.
In a previous post at the Tavern (by my own admission) we may have put on a bit too much pressure for this young team. But for what it’s worth, you can check it out here. Only the future of Korean Women’s football is on the line, that’s all. No biggie, right?
There is some momentum as Korea has been finding it’s scoring boots (2 goals against Costa Rica). The key to winning tonight is to be more efficient with their scoring opportunities. Korea is creating their chances -Ji So-Yun and company is providing that, but they couldn’t find the back of the net against Brazil AND was incredibly close to scoring more than 2 goals against Costa Rica (suffice to say they should’ve scored at least 3). With Korea conceding 2 goals per game in the tournament, it’s Captain Obvious to the rescue to say simply this: Korea would secure the win should they score 3 goals against Spain. Nice mathematics Captain.
Another key to the match: Park Eun-Sun. She’s been nursing a very recent ankle injury and has yet to appear in the tournament, but Yoon Deok-Yeo indicated that he may start the forward tonight. She is the tallest and most physically gifted member of the squad and additionally leads the team in scoring during the qualifiers. “I believe Park can make an impact on the squad,” Yoon said speaking to the media yesterday. Yoon hoped that the Park Eun-Sun / Ji So-Yun pairing can open the floodgates to scoring. Even Spanish media is taking stock in Park and what she could bring to the game (though part of the article seems a bit unflattering as it dredges up water already past under the bridge with the expired ugly rumor-mongering episodes over her gender from a few years ago). Only one of 2 players playing abroad in Europe (the other being Ji So-Yun for Chelsea), the WFC Rossiyanka player could be a game changer. With Ji So-Yun and Jeon Ga-Yeul breaking their ducks against Costa Rica, fielding another player who can score can only add options for Korea.
Outpass La Roja: if the Spanish men’s game is typified by tiki taka, Korea’s women at their best is when they play a flowing passing style of play. They’ve demonstrated some of that in their stronger 2nd half against Brazil and more consistently in the match vs Costa Rica – a game that was so close to becoming their first World Cup win. If their confidence in their skills haven’t abated, they could be primed yet to show the world how far women’s football in Korea has advanced.
Defensively close down Losada and Boquette: Vicki Losada scored Spain’s only goal in the tournament (against Costa Rica). Ji So-Yun is familiar with her, Losada plays for rivals Arsenal Ladies in the WSL, but also had stints with Barcelona and Western New York Flash. She’s not the only Spaniard with technical flair, captain Vero Boquete lead Spain’s charge, and so far in the tournament has been able to drive fast and furious forward to create space and opportunities for La Roja. Like Korea, Spain couldn’t find the back of the net against Brazil and has been limited to only their one goal.
Spain are debutants to the World Cup ball. Costa Rica is also new to the World Cup dance. Korea’s experience perhaps was indicative of the control they had over Costa Rica through a good portion of that match. Should experience count for anything, perhaps it’s Korea’s night to make history.
No predictions tonight. Good luck to the Eujahs. Dae han min guk! Go Korea, Fighting!