Monday, 18 Feb 2008  Chongqing, China PR Yongchuan Stadium

DPR Korea
DPR Korea 2 1-1
3 Japan
38min. 10/RI Kum Suk
55min. 11/RI Un Gyong
3min. 17/ANDO Kozue
83min. 8/MIYAMA Aya
93min. 10/SAWA Homare

A last minute attack scores Japan a dramatic victory over DPR Korea.

 The opening match of the East Asian Women’s Football Championship Finals drew DPR Korea, quarterfinalists at last September’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in China, versus Japan who finished that same tournament with one win. The match finished with an extra time winner for Japan and a 3-2 victory.

 Up front for DPR Korea were 2007 AFC Women’s Championship MVP forward and captain RI Kum Suk and KIM Yong Ae. In the other camp was Japanese Coach SASAKI Norio, in charge for his first game since being appointed in December 2007, and he had selected SAWA Homare in her 129th appearance as well as 20 year old debutant mid SAKAGUCHI Mizuho in a 4-4-2 formation. Going back 10 meetings DPR Korea has won 8 and drawn 1 lost 1 so this was a pressure situation for the Japanese team but they soon found a good rhythm. They made their way into the opponents attacking area using short, low passes and one two’s down the wing. In the 3rd minute mid-fielder MIYAMA Aya’s left sided free kick was met by ANDO Kozue who headed home to put Japan into the lead. DPR Korea’s goal mouth had been breached by Japan and in the 6th minute ANDO got behind her defender to launch a decisive shot. The defense wasn’t giving their opponents an inch either.
DPR Korea then began to protect the ball and create shooting chances, KIM Kyong Hwa in the 14th minute and SONG Jong Sun in the 19th both tried to change the match score line from long range. DPR Korea applied pressure right from the front which led to some mistakes in Japan’s passing. Japan covered the middle of the pitch leaving the sides open. Right back SONG Jong Sun’s cross and left back OM Jong Ran’s dribbling runs both led to good chances in front of goal. Then in the 38th minute KIM Yong Ae got behind the right back went around the charging goalkeeper and centered the ball. RI Kum Suk was running through the middle and met the cross with her head to finish into an empty net.

DPR Korea had tied it up at 1-1 and their team’s intensity changed lead by RI Kum Suk. Japan changed their formation to 4-1-4-1 in an attempt to create more chances. In the 49th minute KIL Son Hui’s left footed cross found RI Kum Suk who attacked with purpose and scored. But this was adjudged offside and the goal disallowed. Then in the 55th DPRK Korea created a chance through a series of short passes finishing with RI Un Gyong running off a post up play and finishing from range with her right foot. DPR Korea took the lead 2-1.

Overtaken Japan brought in forward ARAKAWA Eriko. They moved to one ace striker up front and began to attack. SAWA was moved just behind the striker and the chances started to increase including ARAKAWA’s 60th minute dribble and shoot. Then, in the 62nd and 63rd minutes SAWA increased the attacking presence with consecutive long range shots. DPR Korea on the other hand had a good opportunity at the other end in the 66th minute, RI Kum Suk’s hard free kick came close while KIM Kyong Hwa’s 68th minute pass found KIM Yong Ae who’s shot barely missed the left post. The final stages of the match turned into a fierce back and forth between the two teams. Japan made the most of this momentum. In the 83st minute Japan’s MIYAMA’s left side free kick put IWASHIMIZU Azusa through on goal. The goal continued through on goal and went in tying it up at 2-2. Then as extra time approached DPR Korea had a corner from the left which 2007 AFC Youth Women’s MVP RA Un Sim headed towards goal. However it just missed to the right. It looked as if the match would end in a draw but Japan took the glory. In the 93rd minute ARAKAWA ‘s pass was met by SAWA on the right side and she tried an audacious right footed lob. “I thought if I shoot it will go in, I shot and it went in” SAWA said after the match about her deciding goal which went over the goalkeeper’s head and into the top left corner of the goal. The dramatic goal gave Japan a 3-2 win. In his first game in charge Coach SASAKI praised the players saying “I believe the 3rd and final goal was born of the Japanese women’s team, Nadeshiko’s, fighting spirit”.The losing DPRK Korea coach KIM Kwang Min said “Our goal right right now is getting a good result at the Beijing Olympics. We didn’t prepare very much for this tournament and that is why we got the result we did”.

Text by YOSHIDA Taro




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