Will the final ‘dance’ of the ‘Golden Generation’ end on a high note? The team’s quest for a first-ever quarterfinal at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia-New Zealand 2023 (July 20-Aug. 20) begins on Tuesday with the opening match (New Zealand-Norway, 1 p.m.).
In Group H (Korea-Colombia-Morocco-Germany), Korea opens against Colombia on July 25 (11 a.m.) as they look to advance beyond the round of 16 for only the second time in their history. The core of the South Korean team, which has struggled to recruit new players, is anchored by veterans born in the 1980s and early ’90s, including Ji So-yeon and Park Eun-sun. Playing under Korea Women’s National Team head coach Colleen Bell, who says “results matter,” the players have laced up their boots in hopes of creating “an upset.
Confidence is high and the atmosphere is electric.
A record 32 nations have competed in the Women’s World Cup, with the top two finishers in eight groups advancing to the round of 16. In the Fifa rankings of the four nations in Group H, South Korea (17th) is second to Germany (2nd), followed by Colombia (25th) and Morocco (72nd). In terms of average height, Germany (172 centimeters) leads the way, with South Korea (167.9 centimeters) ahead of Colombia (166.8 centimeters) and Morocco (166.2 centimeters). South Korea is not far behind in objective strength.
The players’ mental attitude before the final match has also improved. Goalkeeper Yoon Young-gl said, “My personal goal is to keep a clean sheet and the team goal is to reach the quarterfinals,” while forward Kang Chae-rim said, “I’m excited just thinking about scoring a goal.” South Korea has 14 of its 23 players with World Cup experience.
The players are physically ready, thanks to Bell’s intense training regimen. In particular, the physically gifted Park Eun-sun is making her third appearance at the tournament (2003 and 2015), while Ji So-yeon (67 goals in 145 A matches), the center of the 2015 team that reached the round of 16, is making her third consecutive World Cup appearance. Casey Eugene Fair (16), a mixed-race player with an American father and Korean mother, is the youngest player in the tournament.
“Winning the first game is the most important thing,” Bell said before departing for Australia on Oct. 10. All I can think about is winning the first game against Colombia.” 스포츠토토
Who are the world stars to watch?
Brazil’s Marta (Orlando-37), who is playing in her sixth World Cup, is the most prolific World Cup scorer of any player, male or female, with 17 career goals. Although she is not at full strength due to a knee injury, she is the team’s mental anchor. Brazil head coach Pia Sundhage has put her trust in her, saying, “The juniors are infectious with positivity just by being around her.”
The U.S. Women’s National Team is loaded with quality goalkeepers, including Megan Rapinoe (38-Orleans), Alex Morgan (34-San Diego), and Sophia Smith (22-Portland). Spanish midfielder Alexia Putejas (29-Barcelona), German midfielder Lena Oberdorf (21-Wolfsburg), and Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg (28-Lyon) are other players to watch. Onome Ebi (40-Nigeria) is the oldest player in the competition, while former NBA player Dennis Rodman (62.