[2015 FIFA WWC] South Korea gets tricky draw

As promised, here is my interpretation of the 2015 FIFA WWC Draw, which was held yesterday (Saturday) at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec. Which teams will be Taeguk Ladies’ be playing as they travel to Canada’s Great White North next summer for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015?

South Korea was in Pot C along with the non-ranked Asian qualifiers (China PR, Australia, Thailand) and the non-ranked South Americans (Colombia, Ecuador). The only ranked Asian team was defending World champions Japan.

So, without further ado, the results:

Group A: Canada (Host), China PR, New Zealand, The Netherlands
Group B: Germany, Côte d’Ivoire, Norway, Thailand
Group C: Japan, Switzerland, Cameroon, Ecuador
Group D: USA, Australia, Sweden, Nigeria
Group E: Brazil, South Korea, Spain, Costa Rica
Group F: France, England, Colombia, Mexico

Korea’s Group
South Korea drew into Group E along with Brazil, Spain and Costa Rica. If this was the men’s scene, then… well, we’d be screwed. But, despite the big names and the admittedly tricky opposition, the South Korean women have a reasonable shot at qualifying in the 3rd place spot – the best 4 of the 6 third place finishers advance to the knockout stages.

The first game against Brazil will definitely be the hardest. Obviously a good start is key to a good tournament, but the Korean women would need to work very hard to beat As Canarinhas. You can’t look past the fact that they are 6th in the World rankings and have qualified for 7 straight World Cup Finals. However, the Brazilian side has stumbled in the past year, drawing New Zealand and losing to Argentina. The Brazilians will be tricky to beat, but are not necessarily the powerhouse that we come to expect from the men’s side.

The second game will be against Costa Rica, and are a side Korea should be beating. They are a young team who have had success (relatively) at youth levels, but it is only their first qualification for a World Cup and Korea’s experience must take them through.

Korea will finish the Group Stage in Canada’s capital, in Ottawa, against Spain. The Spanish Ladies aren’t among the best teams in Europe but have earned their qualification, beating Italy and winning 9 out of 10 games in their qualification stage. I think Korea will be able to earn a draw.

All in all, it is a tricky test for Korea but the team isn’t about to back down. Manager Yoon Deok-Yeo revealed confidently post-draw that he was “hoping to get Brazil [out of the 6 seeds].” And that he was “happy with the outcome.”

The first two games for the Korean Ladies’ will be at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, known informally as the “Big Owe”, while the final game will be contested in TD Place at Landsdowne Park, in Ottawa, Ontario.

Predictions for the other groups
Group A Teams: Canada (Host), China PR, New Zealand, The Netherlands

Canada will be buoyed by the home fans and will easily beat New Zealand and the Netherlands. China could be a sterner test but this is a group Canada really should be winning, with the help of their star striker Christine Sinclair. China will come in second, ahead of the Netherlands.

Group A Prediction: Canada, China, Netherlands, New Zealand

Group B: Germany, Cote d’Ivoire, Norway, Thailand

Germany are always favorites to win the Women’s World Cup and have a straightforward draw. They won their qualifying group with a +58 goal difference! Norway are a step underneath the two time champs but debutants Cote d’Ivoire and Thailand will pose no threat to them.

Group B Prediction: Germany, Norway, Cote d’Ivoire, Thailand

Group C: Japan, Switzerland, Cameroon, Ecuador

Japan are the reigning champions and will walk through this group. African nations not named Nigeria never really impress at WWC’s, and Ecuador needed an inter-continental playoff. Switzerland will finish second.

Group C Prediction: Japan, Switzerland, Ecuador, Cameroon

Group D: USA, Australia, Sweden, Nigeria

Unequivocally the group of death, the United States must be fuming that they don’t get the play on grass (come on, we’re buried under snow 8 months a year here!) and despite the 24-team format, they are pitted against the world’s best. Australia have come a long way in the last few years while Sweden conceded just one goal in qualifying, while Nigeria have a strong group of players, as they always seem to do, who impressed at the U20’s.

Group D Prediction: Sweden, USA, Australia, Nigeria

Group E Prediction: Brazil, Spain, South Korea, Costa Rica

Group F: France, England, Colombia, Mexico

A tasty matchup in Montreal between old foes, France and England, headlines this group. Mexico were out of their element at the recent CONCACAF Championship so I expect the two European nations to earn the automatic qualifying spots.

Group F Prediction: France, England, Mexico, Colombia

Remember, the best four third place teams qualify for the Round of 16, along with the group winners and runners-up. The tournament begins on June 6th and concludes with the final in Vancouver on July 5th. As Korea play in Montreal, perhaps I can catch a game… if the Omma approves the trip. Jinseok or Evelyn will have your Weekend Roundup out soon – but that’s all from me. Enjoy what’s left of your weekend – Tavern Studio Canada signing out. Jalgayo.

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The maple syrup guzzling kimchijjigae craving Korean-Canadian, eh?