Future looks bright for South Korean women’s team

Ji So-yun, left, in action for South Korea. (Lee Jin-man)

South Korea doesn’t have the pedigree of North Korea in the women’s game. However, with the latter’s ban from the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup due to doping, it’s the Republic’s chance to shine. It’s only the South Koreans’ second tournament appearance, but the future is optimistic for the Taeguk Ladies.


World Cup team profiles: To read in-depth profiles of all 24 teams at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, CLICK HERE


Roster

Goalkeepers: Jun Min-kyung, Kim Jung-mi and Yoon Young-guel

Defenders: Lee Eun-mi, Lim Seon-joo, Shim Seo-yeon, Kim Do-yeon, Hwang Bo-ram, Song Su-ran, Shin Dam-yeong, Kim Soo-yun and Kim Hye-ri

Midfielders: Jeon Ga-eul, Cho So-hyun, Kwon Hah-nul, Park Hee-young, Kang Yu-mi, Lee So-dam and Lee Geum-min

Forwards: Park Eun-sun, Ji So-yun, Jung Seol-bin and Yoo Young-a

Coach

Yook Deok-yeo, a former centre-back who represented South Korea at the 1990 World Cup, took over the women’s national team in December 2012. He guided the Taeguk Warriors to a fourth-place finish at last year’s Asian Cup and also led the under-17 squad at the 2003 World Cup.

Group E schedule

June 9: vs. Brazil in Montreal
June 13: vs. Costa Rica in Montreal
June 17: vs. Spain in Ottawa

How they qualified

South Korea outlasted China to win Group B at the 2014 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, which secured its qualification to the World Cup. The Koreans ended up losing to Australia in the semifinals before the Chinese defeated them in the third-place match.

Team strengths

Like many of the teams from AFC, South Korea has a strong attacking lineup. Ji So-yun and Park Eun-sun are two talented forwards with tremendous finishing abilities. Park scored six goals in five matches at the 2014 Asian Cup, while Ji won the PFA Women’s Player of the Year in England.

Team weaknesses

Inexperience is a big setback for South Korea. Since they have seldom appeared at a World Cup and have a few debutantes, it could be a very difficult test for them. The injury to Yeo Min-ji is also a huge blow because she and Ji So-yun form a dangerous pairing up front and have played together since they were members of the under-17 squad.

Player to watch

Since Yeo Min-ji is hurt, all eyes will be on Ji So-yun, who scored nine goals in 19 games with Chelsea Ladies. With the accolades Ji received in England, she’ll be under pressure to deliver in Canada this summer, or else South Korea may suffer a group-stage elimination again.

Burning question

Who will replace the injured Yeo Min-ji? The answer is likely Park Eun-sun, who can certainly carry the load with Ji So-yun up front. However, they don’t have the same chemistry that Ji and Yeo have.

Prospects

Group E will be difficult to manage for South Korea. Brazil and Spain are the two favourites to automatically progress, but the Koreans could finish in third and qualify if they have more points than other third-placed teams. However, even if they get through, it’s unlikely that the Republic will make it past the quarterfinals.

World Cup history

1991 – Did not qualify
1995 – Did not qualify
1999 – Did not qualify
2003 – Group stage
2007 – Did not qualify
2011 – Did not qualify

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