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Summary of the EAFF WOMEN'S EAST ASIAN CUP 2015



August 31, 2015


Title-holders DPR Korea once again reaffirmed their strength as the dominating team with some exceptional football, winning the tournament for the second time in a row.
Pitted against teams that had played in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015, the DPR Korea harnessed the talents of their individual players and team to win against Japan (2nd place in Canada 2015), China PR (last 8 in Canada 2015), and Korea REP (last 16 in Canada 2015).
Despite DPR Korea’s absence from the World Cup, the team exhibited a relentless resolve and fighting spirit which was never shaken – even during the threatening moments the team had to overcome in their third match against Korea REP. The attacking which allowed them to score nine goals during the tournament was impactful and full of force, with their precision in front of the goal standing out among the four tournament participants.
Most notable was the fantastic teamwork between the tournament’s top scorer and captain RA UN SIM (10) and forward KIM YUN MI(12), both of whom were bold and daring in their approach toward the opposition’s goal and produced powerful shots. With an offensive centred on sharp counterattacking manoeuvres, it is also important that we note the participation of the team’s midfielders in attack.
Especially outstanding was midfielder WI JONG-SIM(13) in the game against China PR, where she scored two goals and created many more chances on the pitch. A defence centred on KIM NAM-HUI(15), who was picked Best Defender, gave the team an organised balance despite conceding four goals.
This characteristic allowed the team to hold their ground against Korea REP, keeping a clean sheet. With a form that neatly meshes offensive and defensive capabilities, this tournament has come as a booster of confidence for a team that is heading toward the qualifiers for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Korea REP, without a number of its main players to injuries and so on, missed a chance to secure the top spot in the tournament with a loss to DPR Korea. However, of the four teams, it was Korea REP that showed an unbroken concentration throughout the 90 minutes of each game. Despite the shaky developments in the game, even in their matches against China PR and Japan the ten field players all contributed to the cause, and the wall created by defenders standing in front of the tall goalkeeper KIM JUNG- MI(18) was anything but easy to topple.
In attack, some swift passing between players usually led the ball to JUNG SEOL-BIN(11), who was more than capable of forcefully breaking through the opposition line. Unpredictable passes by playmaker LEE MIN A(12) marked the team’s style of play. Watching the benchwarmers on the team practise their one-touch and go drills during half time gave the observer a clear idea of attacking style the team was aspiring to achieve.
Nonetheless, it was clear that the foundation of the team still rested on traditional hard work. In their game against China PR, although a number of players having leg cramps toward the end of the game, they pushed on to the end and went away with a victory.
In addition to the strength of their teamwork, the side could be proud of a number of talented players of high quality, such as defender HWANG BO-RAM(6), with her astute strength in one-to-one confrontations and accurate passing, KWON HAH-NUL(13), with her ability to create momentum in a game, and the reliable captain CHO SO-HYUN(8).
All of the above factors indicated the growth of the team as an offensive and defensive rival.

The young Japan team, labelled ‘Challenge Nadeshiko’ by team manager Sasaki for its large scale change in squad members after having finished as runners up in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015, put up a good fight but ended up losing to DPR Korea and Korea REP.
Pressuring other teams from high on the field and connecting the ball in midfield in a way that allowed each player to harness their skilful techniques and rich ideas gave the manager a reason to praise the team for its performance. However, the lack of experience among the players revealed the team’s occasional competitive frailty and instability.
However, the young team made promising improvements, enabling them to beat China PR. On the squad midfielder SUGITA AMI(22), who had only made one appearance on the national team prior to the tournament, scored two goals with some brilliant midrange shooting. Her tournament performance makes her a potential candidate for the future starting line-up.
Despite originally playing as an attacker, KYOKAWA MAI(13) was selected to play on the starting line-up as right -back in all three games, leading to her becoming one of the fastest maturing players in the tournament.
Furthermore, YOKOYAMA KUMI(16) was able to live up to her manager’s expectations and regained her self-confidence when she scored the decider against China PR, despite being substituted onto the game halfway into play. Starting with the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 and moving toward the qualifiers for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, it is not an easy task for a team that appears in many tournaments to accommodate the participation of younger players on the side. However, the young boots on the side this tournament is sure to help strengthen the team in future games.

A month earlier, China PR not only progressed to the last eight in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015, but the team was also praised for giving the champions USA a hard time on the pitch. Moreover, the team differed from Japan and Korea REP in that it retained its main players on the EAFF Women’s East Asian Cup 2015 squad, and, as host country, was expected to win the competition.
In spite of the expectations, China PR lost three games in a row, ending in fourth place – to the dismay of Chinese supporters. However, it would be unfair to say the side did not play well. In attack WANG SHANSHAN(9), ace forward on the team, and world-class wide attacker HAN PENG(18), as well as LIU JUN(7) and GU YASHA(17), substitutes who frequently appeared in matches, developed a formidably sharp offensive strategy.
The team that gave DPR Korea the most difficulty was also China PR, however it must be said that when put in front of the goal, the team seemed to be under a kind of an invisible pressure. As for the team’s skilfulness, it displayed a high level of ability, though its stability as a team, its ability to switch from offense to defence, and its decisiveness in front of the goal were all lacking.
However it can be said that China PR had a good opportunity to reformulate its team for the Rio de Janeiro qualifiers, where the four participants in this tournament plus Australia will probably complete for the two spots in the Olympics.
With the qualifiers scheduled to take place in Japan, Japanese manager Sasaki warned of China PR’s potential in a comment after Japan’s win over them.