These next few weeks are truly going to be full of amazing football and I’m excited to bring it all to you. So while our U20 Taegeuk Warriors are getting ready for their crunch class with Argentina tomorrow, I wanted to take the time to remind everyone that there’s another tournament starting in one week in France! The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup will begin next Friday afternoon and our Taegeuk Ladies have the honor of participating in the opening match against France. Let’s take a look at the squad (with a huge h/t to our friend Hal Kaiser), pick out some story lines for this group, and then wrap up with all the info so we all know when to tune in!
All 23 of these women have very interesting stories and reasons why they have made this squad that is travelling to France. While that comment is somewhat trite, I feel it is important to highlight that this squad has worked very hard to get to where they are. I can’t say I could tell you everything about each one, but our good friend Hal Kaiser is currently working on an incredible Twitter thread where he will try to do just that! I’m just going to get out of the way and let his expertise do the talking:
We Get the Party Started
The first match is a week away and the first storyline I want to talk about is how awesome it will be that we will get to kick off the tournament! Yes, you read that right, we play France right after the opening ceremony next Friday! The Taegeuk Ladies have fought really hard just to qualify for this tournament (something we’ve covered here and here) so it’s fitting that they were given the chance to open the tournament when the draw was announced.
The squad comes into the tournament with a bit of an injury crisis at the goalkeeper position. Yoon Younggeul, the No. 1 keeper last year, suffered a long term injury recently so she’ll miss the tournament. Unfortunately, goalkeeping legend Kim Jungmi, the Korean keeper who played at the 2015 and 2003 Women’s World Cup, suffered a Achilles injury in the recent training camp and will also miss the World Cup. Kang Ga-ae will deputize for both of them knowing that they are supporting her from afar. She’s been with the senior national team since 2016 and has the experience needed to succeed in France.
Who are Korea’s stars?
The first game against France will no doubt be a gauntlet filled with emotion going against one of the tournament favorites, but fighting against the bigger teams is what Korea does best. This team is also filled with current and future stars making more and more of a name for themselves around the world. In defense, Jang Selgi is a gem waiting to be found by one of the bigger clubs of women’s football (she currently stars for the biggest club in Korea, Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels). In midfield, captain Cho Sohyun will organize and push forward, Lee Mina will make incredibly intelligent and quick runs in behind, and Ji Soyun will use her incredible technique to create space to score. Finally, up top Yeo Minji will finally get a chance to play at the Women’s World Cup. Yeo, who scored 8 goals for the Golden Boot when Korea won the 2010 U17 Women’s World Cup, was injured for the 2015 Women’s World Cup. She will get a chance to finally shine on the biggest stage in women’s football alongside her teammates.
Is this the Group of Death?
It might be. France are one of the favorites to win the whole tournament they’re hosting; Norway, even without Ada Hegerburg, went undefeated in UEFA World Cup Qualifying and won the Algarve Cup this spring; and Nigeria are the best squad in Africa, having won the past three African Women’s Championships. And then there’s the Taegeuk Ladies. We’re not the most decorated team, but Korean women are known for their fighting spirit. It’s going to be hotly contested and I hope we make it out alive. No one thought we were going to make the Round of 16 last time but we did. Let’s do it again!
I’m sure there are plenty more interesting stories to tell about this Women’s World Cup run that our Taegeuk Ladies are going to embark on and I’m looking forward to sharing as much as I can with you in the coming weeks. For now, let me know in the comments the stories I’ve missed. I’ll leave you with the group stage info so you don’t miss a second of the action!
France vs Korea Republic, June 7, 3 PM EST, 4 AM KST (June 8)
Parc des Princes, Paris
Broadcast Info: SBS (Korea), FS1 (US)
Nigeria vs Korea Republic, June 12, 9 AM EST, 10 PM KST
Stade des Alps, Grenoble
Broadcast Info: MBC Sports+ (Korea), FS1 (US)
Korea Republic vs Norway, June 17, 3 PM EST, 4 AM KST (June 18)
Stade Auguste-Delaune, Reims
Broadcast Info: KBSN Sports (Korea) FS1 (US)