North Korea’s Women’s soccer team makes the finals in 2006 Asian Games


N. Korea reaches the gold medal match after sinking China 3-1 in semifinals

North Korea showed it was far and above the favorite to win gold in women’s football by coming from behind to beat China 3-1 in the semifinal match of the Asian Games on Sunday.

The North Koreans, who are currently seventh in FIFA’s global ranking, clearly outperformed eighth-ranked China throughout the match, with missed opportunities and bad luck preventing the game from being settled in regulation time.

The defending Asiad champions got off to a rocky start when they surrendered a goal in the 10th minute of play when Wang Dandan put China up on the scoreboard 1-0.

North Korean goalie Jon Myong-hui failed to secure a cross from Weng Xinzhi that fell in front of Wang who tapped it into the net.

The goal, however, galvanized the North Koreans into action, with its players dominating the other side in both ball possession and shots and after several threatening moves, the North equalized with a deflected ball by the Chinese goalkeeper that Kil Son-hui returned to the net in the 21st minute.

The two sides went into halftime tied 1-1 and were unable to break the deadlock in the second half despite better chances for the North.

In overtime, the North’s domination of the pitch paid off with a left-footed shot by Ri Kum-suk in the 94th minute of play and another by Ri Un-gyong 5 minutes later. Ri is rated one of the top-20 players in the world.

The North Koreans could have made it 4-1 when the Chinese goalie intentionally grabbed Kil to prevent the North Korean from passing her. This resulted in the expulsion of the goalkeeper and a Chinese team struggling for the rest of the lopsided match.

Following the match, North Korean coach Kim Kwang-min said the match was a sort of payback for his side’s defeat in July at the Asian Football Confederation Women’s Asian Cup held in Australia.

“This time our players were in good mental health and spirit,” he said, expressing satisfaction with the outcome of the match.

The North Koreans will take on Japan in the finals scheduled for Wednesday, with Japan unlikely to pose a serious threat to the defending Asian champions. The Japanese side has never won the Asian gold in women’s football, having won bronze in both Bangkok and Busan in 1998 and 2002.


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