It was a shocker.
Head coach Colleen Bell’s Asian Games women’s football team suffered a shock 1-4 defeat against North Korea in the women’s football quarterfinals of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at the Wenzhou Sports Center in Wenzhou, China on Tuesday (June 30).
The matchup comes six years after the 2017 East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) E-1 Championship (East Asian Cup). Back then, the national team lost 0-1 to the DPRK, which also took a knee. The all-time head-to-head record against the DPRK is 1-3, with 16 draws. They have not won in 13 matches (2 draws and 11 losses) since a 1-0 victory at the 2005 East Asian Cup.
Furthermore, the team has met North Korea six times at the Asian Games, losing all six times, and suffered a humiliating quarterfinal exit 25 years after finishing fifth at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok.
Bell placed forward Park Eun-sun in the center of the back three. This was to stop North Korean striker Kim Yong-yong. Son Hwa-yeon and Choi Yuri were in the front line, backed by Ji So-yeon. The game was intense from the start as it was a North-South match. The North Korean players defended combatively, not shying away from tackles, and in the first three minutes, the two teams collided. A tackle on Ji So-yeon was the catalyst. The entire squad was involved, with the referee actively trying to stop it, and North Korea’s Hong Seung Ok was warned.
The team was unable to build up against North Korea’s strong defense. A series of missed passes led to an own goal in the 11th minute of the first half, when North Korea’s Ahn Myeong-sung hit the leg of the goalie. The lead didn’t last long, though. In the 19th minute, Lee Hak took a free kick just outside the penalty box and rattled the net with a perfect winding kick. Goalkeeper Kim Jong-mi was able to predict the direction, but it was perfectly deflected. The North Korean supporters chanted, “Win the DPRK.”
The national team failed to gain the upper hand in one-on-one battles. In particular, the flanking attack was not alive. In the 35th minute, Ji So-yeon had a chance to attack with an individual breakaway, but she couldn’t get a shot off. Park Eun-sun and Kim Kyung-young also collided once. In the 37th minute, Jang Seul-ki’s cross from the left flank was met by Choi Yoo-ri’s head but headed into the air. In the 40th minute, Son Hwa-yeon collided with the goalkeeper while penetrating, and the referee pulled out a warning. Son Hwa-yeon, who had already been cautioned once in the first 12 minutes, was sent off for accumulating cautions.
Clashes broke out everywhere. Outnumbered, the team struggled to overcome the North Korean offense in the second half. They dropped their line completely. They kept the back four, but left only Jeon Eun-ba up front. In the 14th minute of the second half, Ri Hak broke through and fired a left-footed shot straight at the goalkeeper 스포츠토토.
North Korea introduced Myong Yoo-jung in the 17th minute of the second half. North Korea threatened on several occasions, but their finishing was lacking. In the 23rd minute, Hong Seung Ok’s right-footed shot went wide of the goal. The South Koreans were unable to generate any offense. Bell brought on Lee Eun-young for Chun in the 28th minute and Moon Mi-ra for Park Eun-sun in the 32nd minute.
North Korea finally scored a goal in the 36th minute. In the midst of a penalty box scramble, Ahn Myeong-sung ran in on a pass from Little Ok and finished with her right foot to put the game out of reach. The South Koreans set their line high in search of a second goal. North Korea attacked from both flanks. In the 44th minute, North Korea scored the game-winning goal with a perfect right-footed mid-range shot from Ri Hak. In stoppage time, a handball foul on Kim Hye-ri resulted in a penalty kick, which Kim Yong-yong calmly converted to seal the game.