Korea takes second place at women’s EAFF E-1

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Korea takes second place at women’s EAFF E-1

Hosts Korea finished in second place at a women’s East Asian football tournament on Tuesday following a 1-0 loss to Japan.

Yuka Momiki converted an 88th-minute penalty, awarded after defender Shim Seo-yeon’s handball violation in the box, and the Nadeshiko Japan held on to win the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) E-1 Football Championship for the third time.

The two sides fired blanks at one another for most of the tight, defensive affair at Busan Gudeok Stadium in Busan until Shim’s miscue set up the decisive penalty for Japan. Korea fell to 4-10-17 (wins-draws-losses) all-time against Japan.

Japan finished with a perfect 3-0-0 record for their first EAFF title since 2010. Korea took second place with four points at 1-1-1.

China (1-1-1) also had four points but Korea had the edge in the goal difference tiebreaker, plus 2 to minus 2. Chinese Taipei (0-0-3) brought up the rear in the four-nation tournament.

Coached by Colin Bell, Korea was trying to win their first EAFF title since the inaugural event in 2005.

Korea had a 0-0 draw against China to open the tournament last Tuesday in Bell’s first match, and then blanked Chinese Taipei 3-0 last Sunday to hand the Englishman his first victory as Korea’s head coach.

The 20th-ranked Korea played some dogged defense to keep the world No. 10 Japan at bay early, though the home team managed just one shot at the other end in the first half.

Korea upped their attacking pressure in the second half while holding their ground on defense. But with the clock ticking, Shim had a shot by Momiki go off her left arm in the box for the crucial violation. Momiki herself stepped up for the spot kick and struck it past Yoon Young-geul for the match’s lone goal.

This EAFF tournament wasn’t part of the FIFA international match calendar, and European clubs weren’t obliged to release their Korean players for the occasion. Bell was without West Ham United FC Women midfielder Cho So-hyun, a long-time national team captain, and Chelsea FC Women forward Ji So-yun, Korea’s all-time leading scorer with 55 goals in 121 matches.

Bell should have his full lineup when Korea hosts the third round of the Asian qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics from Feb. 3-9 next year on Jeju Island. North Korea, Vietnam and Myanmar will be Korea’s opponents in Group A. The Group B teams are Australia, China, Thailand and Chinese Taipei.

The top two teams from each group will move on to the final round scheduled for March, and the top two from there will qualify for the Olympics. Korea has never played at the Olympic women’s football tournament, first contested in 1996.

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