South Korea’s women’s handball team will face Japan in the final as they look to win a third straight Asian Games title.

South Korea defeated China 30-23 in the quarterfinals of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games on Wednesday at the Zhejiang Gongsang University Sports Center in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China.

Japan defeated Kazakhstan 40-22 in the second quarterfinal match at the same venue to set up a meeting with Korea.

Even before the group stage of the tournament began, it was widely expected that the two powerhouses, South Korea and Japan, would reach the final. Korea played in Group A, while Japan played in Group B.

At the post-match press conference, South Korea Women’s National Handball Team head coach Henrik Sigel was asked by a Chinese reporter, “Who do you think will come out on top, Kazakhstan or Japan?” and he didn’t hesitate to answer, “I think Japan.”

“It’s going to be a tough match,” she said of Japan. It’s going to be intense because they’re two strong teams in Asia. Obviously, we have to try to do better in all areas.”

A final against Japan is a scenario that the Korean players were expecting. “We thought Japan was the favorite (for the final),” said captain Lee Im-kyung shortly after the match against China, adding, “In Korea-Japan matches, we always struggle in the beginning. We’ve played well in the qualifiers before if we can shake off the pressure. I hope we don’t put too much pressure on ourselves while thinking about that.”

Korean women’s handball won five consecutive titles from Beijing 1990, the first time women’s handball was included in the Asian Games, to Doha 2006. They finished with a bronze medal in Guangzhou in 2010 before winning back-to-back titles in Incheon in 2014 and Jakarta-Palembang in 2018.

It was Japan that ended Korea’s dominance in Guangzhou 2010. South Korea fell to Japan 28-29 in the quarterfinals 메이저사이트.

Ryu Eun-hee, the youngest member of the national team at the time, remembers it clearly. “I thought, ‘We can’t lose anymore,’ and we haven’t lost since then,” she said. “The Korea-Japan game is always important. In every sport, the Korea-Japan game is important and must be won, so our players will be mentally prepared and analyze well to play better this time.”

South Korea swept their three Pool A matches to reach the quarterfinals. They beat Uzbekistan 42-16, Thailand 45-14, and Kazakhstan 45-23 to reach the quarterfinals.

Japan also swept through the group stage. Competing in Pool B, which included five teams, Japan edged China 26-25, defeated India 41-13, Hong Kong 38-10, and Nepal 62-10.