The first haniljeon of the weekend is over: Ji So-Yun lit up Japan’s net twice and South Korea’s defense did enough to hold off Japan 2-1 and deny them their 3rd consecutive East Asia Cup in this finale game. They may have lost their other matches and the win doesn’t give the Korean National Women’s team the title, but the result by itself was impressive and symbolic. As Saturday marks 60 years since the end of major combat on the Korean peninsula and the terrible Korean War that tore the country in half, both North and South Koreans were embracing each other. The reason: Japan’s loss to the South Koreans meant their neighbor to the north would take the title, ending Japan’s title hopes. It was a dramatic scene – a united Korea – at least for the moment.
To get a sense of the win: (as far as I can tell) Japan fielded it’s A team, with players representing Chelsea, Hoffenheim and Montpellier as well as domestic league players; this was a strong composite of the Women’s World Cup 2011 title winning squad. South Korea on the other hand is a woefully underfunded development project, a team that has moments of brilliance but has large gaps of quality, particularly in defense. This tourney up until today was no exception, with the Lady Taeguk Warriors losing to both China and North Korea earlier. Today’s result was a shocking upset -and gives some forward momentum to the Korean Women’s national team in it’s quest to be internationally competitive.
Notable: Ji So-yun. She was beasting it up -with quality runs that tangled up Japan’s defense in knots. She had registered both Korea’s goals, the first in the 13th minute on a free kick. Watch …and be amazed
2nd half: on the left side of the field close to center line, Ji was about to pass, with a gauntlet of Japanese players in front of her; incredibly she opted to dribble through and around 4 Japanese players – and still came out in possession of the ball to set up another Korean attack. It was simply jaw dropping. Not too long after, the Tavern sent this twittercast out:
GOOOOAAAALLLL! JI SOYUN SCORES left footed shot past Japan’s keeper, her 2nd in the game at 66th min, Korea 2: Japan 0 women’s East Asia cup
— Roy Ghim (@taeguk_warrior) July 27, 2013
With Kwon Hah-nul’s beautiful cross and Ji’s superb finish, Korea was up 2-0. But it wasn’t long until Japan pulled back within one, Korea’s defenses starting to become overwhelmed by Japan’s frequent counterattacks. With 10 minutes left to go, waves of Japanese attacks along with some shaky Korean attempts at clearances made for some late game drama. But time expired and this happened:
— Christopher Atkins (@Chris_Elastico) July 27, 2013
A stunning win that will hopefully spur further interest and better funding for the Lady Taeguk Warriors. The Tavern owner has got to go look after some neglected children, but tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of the men’s East Asia Cup tournament, that haniljeon will make it a hot time in Seoul. 8pm Korea Time / 7 am US EST — Take a look at Jae’s preview of the match here.
Update: Son Heung-min registered an assist today in Bayer Leverksen’s preseason win over Vitasse. Meanwhile, Kim Bo-kyung scored an equalizer for Cardiff in their friendly, with Craig Bellamy on the assist.