The story of South Korea women’s under-17 national team at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Trinidad & Tobago 2010 couldn’t have asked for a better ending. Korea defeated its arch rivals Japan at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain with a 5-4 penalty shootout win following a thrilling 3-3 draw after 120 minutes of action including extra time.
The teenagers, led by manager Choi Duk-Joo, have already made history in this competition by being the first Korean side of any age group, including both men and women, to advance to the final of a FIFA World Cup tournament. The girls were expected to receive a heroines’ welcome when they return home regardless of the outcome against Japan, but they have now taken a step further with this emotional victory and will remain in history as the first Korean team to be crowned world champions.
Yeo Minji, despite not scoring in the final, retained her first place in the scorers’ chart with eight goals and finished the tournament by winning the Golden Boot.
Korea went ahead after just six minutes with a goal by Lee Jungeun, but Japan turned the match around shortly thereafter with two quick goals by Naomoto Hikaru and Tanaka Yoko. Korea made it even just before the half time whistle through a free-kick by Kim Areum.
Japan regained the lead again in the 57th minute when Yokoyama Kumi, who scored a fantastic winning goal against North Korea in the semifinal, pulled off yet another great dribbling run past the Korean defense and provided an easy chance for Kato Chika for the third goal.
Korea, having beaten Spain in the semifinal after coming from behind, showed its resiliency once again and equalized in the 79th minute as the second half substitute Lee Sodam scored from a stunning long range effort to take the match into extra time.
The match eventually went into penalty shootout. Lee (Jungeun), the scorer of Korea’s first goal in regulation, had the first penalty for her country saved by the opposing goalkeeper, but Japan followed up with a miss when Wada Naoko‘s second penalty went high over the cross bar.
Japan’s sixth penalty taker Muramatsu Tomoko‘s shot also went flying over, giving a golden opportunity for Jang Selgi to finish the match, which she did brilliantly with a perfectly placed shot into the top left corner.
The future is certainly looking bright for Korean women’s football, especially with the under-20 side, led by the prolific striker Ji Soyun, having made an impressive achievement of its own with the semifinal appearance at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Germany 2010 in July.
The pressure is now on the senior women’s side as the team will be expected to carry the success at the Guangzhou 2010 Asian Games in China this November.
Korea’s U-17 World Cup winning squad
GK: Kim Minah, Shim Danbi, Kim Yoojin
DF: Kim Bichna, Jang Selgi, Oh Dahye, Shin Damyeong, Joo Soojin, Baek Eunmi, Kim Soobin, Lim Hayoung
MF: Lee Jungeun, Kim Nari, Kim Areum, Lee Geum-Min, Kim Inji, Lee Sodam, Lee Yoona, Jeon Hanwool
FW: Kim Dahye, Yeo Minji