Taegeuk Ladies roll to U-20 semis
“We weren’t just setting a lofty goal for ourselves when we stated at the onset that we are out to win the tournament,” manager Choi In-cheul said in an interview after the U-20 team beat Mexico 3-1. “We will prepare well for our next match against Germany to reach our goal.”
Choi has his players on the right track, but they will have their hands full against a tough German squad this Thursday.
The host team has been an offensive powerhouse in the tournament and is the only club that has won all its games in the tourney so far.
After securing victories in group matches against the likes of tough teams such as Colombia, France and Costa Rica, Germany advanced to the semifinals by defeating North Korea 2-0 in the quarterfinals.
South Korea, however, has put on a fireworks display on the offensive side of the ball as well. With quick passing and efficient set-piece plays, Korea secured its first berth in the quarterfinals with a record of two wins and one loss in Group D.
The duo of Ji So-yun at forward and Kim Na-rae at midfield fueled Korea’s offense as the team handily defeated its first two opponents, Switzerland and Ghana, by scores of 4-0 and 4-2, respectively. Korea’s only loss came against defending champions the United States (1-0).
In facing a Mexican squad that placed first in Group C with a record of one win and two draws, Ji and Kim received some help from Lee Hyun-young.
Merely 14 minutes into the game, Ji passed to Lee, who then curled a shot into the left corner of the net.
Having assisted on the first goal, Ji added one of her own in the 28th minute off a free kick when her shot curled into the right corner of the net.
In the 67th minute, Lee struck again when Kim Na-rae provided a pass from near the center area of the field. Lee calmly scored to put the game out of reach for Mexico.
Natalia Gomez Junco managed to score a consolation goal for Mexico in the 83rd minute.
Korea faces Germany in Bochum on Thursday at 10:30 p.m., Korea time.
In the other bracket, Colombia surprised the Swedes 2-0 and Nigeria sent the United States packing after winning the game on penalty kicks.
Colombia and Nigeria will play in the other semifinals match on Thursday, with the finals taking place on Aug. 1.
By Jason Kim [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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