So as you may already know, the 2015 Women’s World Cup will be heading up north to Canada next summer. Similar to the Men’s Confederations Cup/World Cup host package, Canada’s tune-up for the Women’s event will be the U-20 Women’s World Cup. This post will be my best stab at a little preview of Korea’s chances and the teams they’ll be tackling in the Group Stage in Moncton and Toronto.
By the way, when I say “Korea” in this post, I mean South Korea, not North Korea. Both are participating though. Just a heads up.
The Host Cities
Korea will play games in at least two cities, possibly three. They definitely won’t feature in Edmonton, at the Commonwealth Stadium out west in Oil Country, but they will instead open the tournament on the other side of Canada, in Moncton. It’s a small city in the middle of the maritime provinces… think fishing, islands, East Coast, Atlantic Ocean, lobsters. It has virtually no Korean population, but will host Korea’s first two games.
They will play their final game in Toronto, at BMO Field aka National Soccer Stadium. It’s got the largest Korean population in Canada so I’d be hoping for a strong representation of Korean pride there. It is also home to “Koreatown”, a few blocks of Korean stores, restaurants, noraebangs, and everything Korean in between.
And finally, if Korea finish second in their group, or make the finals, they will play in Montreal, located in the heart of the Francophone province of Canada.
Anyhow, enough about Canada, although it totally is the second best country in the World (한국 최고!), let’s try to preview the actual tournament itself.
Group A: Canada, Ghana, Finland, North Korea
Group B: Germany, United States, China, Brazil
Group C: England, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria
Group D: New Zealand, Paraguay, France, Costa Rica
The English team qualified 2nd in UEFA, losing out to France in Extra Time in the finals of that tournament. All of their players play their domestic football in England with clubs like Everton Ladies’ and Birmingham City Ladies’, and their strength seems to be defense. They conceded no goals in regular time in their 7 games during the qualifying phase. Their goalkeeper, Lizzie Durack, made her senior debut recently. Look for Melissa Lawley and Katie Zelem to be offensive threats.
Said the English manager, “We have anticipated what South Korea are going to do and we have given the players some guidance on that but ultimately it’s about us being ready to implement our strategy.”
Korea will open the tournament versus the English side.
The Mexicans finished second in the CONCACAF qualifying phase, finishing right behind the United States, losing 4-0 in the final. Despite that, they registered the most shots on goal during the qualifying round than any other team in the tournament. Amanda Perez and Tanya Samarzich will be dangerous in attack – in fact, the latter scored two hat tricks in qualifying.
Quote courtesy of the National Post: “We have come through the group stages in the last two World Cups,” said coach Christopher Cuellar, “so that has to be our objective.”
Korea will finish the Group Stage in Toronto against the Mexicans.
Nigeria were perfect in qualifying with 16-0, 8-0 and 7-0 (two games each on aggregate) wins over Sierra Leone, Tunisia and South Africa. They are the only team to have qualified for every single U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Interestingly, Nigeria’s U-20 team was almost a victim of their governments’ antics in interfering with their FA. FIFA had suspended Nigeria indefinitely a while back but it appears the team will be allowed to participate now. However, the holes in their preparation as a result of this NFF fiasco could prove costly. Asisat Oshoala will lead the team in their attempt to better their 4th place finish in 2012.
Korea went undefeated to take the crown of Asia in qualifying. Jang Selgi will captain the side. She used to be a defender, but now she’s up top, and it seems to be working – she won the Golden Boot in Qualifying with 8 goals including 5 against Myanmar and the winner against North Korea.
South Korea had three tune-up games, with a 3-1 win versus Taiwan, 7-0 against Hong Kong and a 3-0 triumph over fellow qualified team Finland. They also played two friendlies back in April against Canada, splitting game one 2-2, and Jang Selgi scored again in the second encounter to guide Korea to a 2-1 triumph.
The Korean ladies will open against England, August 6th, 4pm EDT, and then play Nigeria three days later at the same time, same place, in Moncton. They’ll finish the group stage against Mexico on August 14th, 8pm EDT, in Toronto. If Korea make it into the Quarter-Finals (top two per group advance), they’ll take on, in all likelihood, France, if Korea finish 2nd in the group. If we win the group, then Paraguay, Costa Rica or New Zealand await in a much easier tie in Moncton.
Here are the kickoff times in the motherland:
And here’s the 21-woman squad:
GK: Min Yoo-Kyung, Oh Eun-Ah, Yoo Ga-Eun
DF: Kim Du-Ri, Kim Woo-Ri, Kim Hye-Young, Ahn Hye-In, Lee Soo-Bin, Lee Ah-In, Lee Hyo-Kyung, Ha Eun-Hye, Hong Hye-Ji
MF: Kim So-I, Kim In-Ji, Park Ye-Eun, Oh Yeon-Hee, Lee Na-Ra, Lee So-Dam, Choi Yu-Ri
FW: Namgung Ye-Ji, Lee Geum-Min, Jang Seul-Gi, Jeon Ha-Sol
Don’t forget, we’ll have coverage here at the Tavern of the Taeguk Warriors, so stick around! And you can follow me on twitter @korfan12 for live updates during the games… provided they show them on TV in Canada. Sigh government cuts to free-to-air television…
In any case, 대한민국 화이팅!