South Korean women's football team wins Asian Cup qualifying opener in North Korea
Michelle Jung, April 5, 2017, 9:52 a.m.
PYONGYANG (Joint Press Corps) -- North Korean women's national football team head coach Kim Kwang-min said Wednesday his players are ready to give their best against South Korea when the two sides go head-to-head in a qualifying match for the top Asian competition.
North Korea collected their second straight victory at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women's Asian Cup Group B qualifying tournament after they blanked Hong Kong 5-0 at Kim Il-sung Stadium in Pyongyang. North Korea opened the qualifying campaign with a 8-0 victory over India on Monday.
"You never expect what's going to happen until you play the match," Kim told reporters after completing the match against Hong Kong. "I believe our players will fight well (against South Koreans) with their strong mentality."
Kim's side will meet South Korea on Friday and the winner of the all-Korean showdown is expected to finish atop the qualification. The Koreas are the top two contenders for the Asian Cup qualification based on the latest FIFA rankings. North Korea are ranked No. 10, third-highest among all AFC members, followed by South Korea (No. 17), Uzbekistan (No. 42), India (No. 56) and Hong Kong (No. 65).
Only the group winner will advance to the 2018 Asian Cup in Jordan, which also doubles as the qualifying tournament for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.
North Koreans boast dominant head-to-head against South Koreans with 14 wins, one loss and two draws. Their only loss to South Korea came in 2005.
Kim said that his side will rely on young players who won the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup title last year in Papua New Guinea.
"We have many players who joined the senior national team after winning the U-20 World Cup," he said. "Most of them played at the senior level for the first time. I believe these matches will serve a good opportunity to become better players."
Against Hong Kong, North Korea easily cruised past the visitors after scoring four goals in the first half. Forward Kim Yun-mi grabbed a brace for North Korea and they were also helped by an own goal from Hong Kong defender Ho Wan Tung. However, Kim didn't seem very satisfied with the performance.
"I think we didn't score as many goals as I hoped," he said.
"Hong Kong had tight defense, and we didn't control the match smoothly to unlock their defense.
When asked about North Koreans' display of strong stamina on the pitch, Kim said, "We just train hard. You also need a strong mentality."