S. Korea hold Japan to draw, take No. 2 seed in group at Women's Asian Cup

유지호 / 2022-01-27 19:04:46
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▲ In this Reuters photo, Kim Hye-ri of South Korea (R) dribbles past Hinata Miyazawa of Japan during the teams' Group C match at the Asian Football Confederation Women's Asian Cup at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, India, on Jan. 27, 2022. (Yonhap)

▲ In this Reuters photo, Choe Yu-ri of South Korea (R) battles Shiori Miyake of Japan for the ball during the teams' Group C match at the Asian Football Confederation Women's Asian Cup at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, India, on Jan. 27, 2022. (Yonhap)

▲ In this Reuters photo, Ji So-yun of South Korea (L) takes a shot past Hinata Miyazawa of Japan during the teams' Group C match at the Asian Football Confederation Women's Asian Cup at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, India, on Jan. 27, 2022. (Yonhap)

football-tournament

S. Korea hold Japan to draw, take No. 2 seed in group at Women's Asian Cup

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Jan. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea played Japan to a 1-1 draw to close out the group stage at the top Asian women's football tournament in India on Thursday, putting up a good fight against the two-time defending champions en route to the quarterfinals.

Seo Ji-youn scored the equalizer in the 85th minute after a chaotic sequence in the goalmouth, as the countries each grabbed a point in the final Group C match of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women's Asian Cup.

Riko Ueki had the opening goal for Japan about 30 seconds into the match at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, India.

The two teams entered Thursday's game with two victories apiece and places in the knockout stage secured, leaving only the top seed up for grabs. Japan and South Korea both ended with seven points but Japan claimed the top spot thanks to their goal difference advantage, plus-8 to plus-5.

In 32 meetings against the 13th-ranked Japan, No. 18 South Korea now have four wins, 11 draws and 17 losses.

There are three groups of four in this tournament, and the top two nations from each group, along with two-best No. 3 seeds, will make up the quarterfinals.

As the Group C runners-up, South Korea will face Group B winners in Sunday's quarterfinal match, which will kick off at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex at 1:30 p.m. local time, or 5 p.m. in Seoul.

Australia sat atop Group B prior to their Thursday nightcap against Thailand and were expected to claim the top seed.

Ueki caught South Korea napping in the opening moments. After Shiori Miyake sent in a long pass from midfield, the Japanese forward split the defense and found the back of the net before the clock even hit the one-minute mark.

Japan controlled the run of play for most of the first half. South Korea's most dangerous chance of the opening half came in the dying seconds, as Cho So-hyun's header landed on the top of the net.

South Korea showed a little more bite on offense in the latter half. In the 73rd minute, winger Lee Geum-min got behind the defense for a hard shot that tested goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita, but was caught offside.

South Korea finally pulled even in a mad scramble in the 85th minute. Following a corner, the ball bounced among a sea of players from both sides before Seo, who had entered the match three minutes earlier, poked it home to make it 1-1.

Australia are the highest-ranked team in this tournament at No. 11. They have played in each of the past three finals, winning it all in 2010 and then finishing runners-up to Japan in 2014 and 2018.

Against Australia, South Korea have managed just two wins against two draws and 13 losses. Their most recent win came in October 2010. They lost 4-1 in their last matchup in March 2019.

South Korea are trying to win the Women's Asian Cup for the first time. Their best performance to date is a third-place finish, behind North Korea and China, in 2003.

This year's Women's Asian Cup doubles as the final Asian qualification stage for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand. The top five teams will qualify directly for the World Cup while the next two teams will reach the intercontinental playoffs.

There will be a repechage round after the quarterfinals, depending on Australia's result in the final eight.

If Australia reach the semifinals, then the four losers of the quarterfinals will play in a one-and-done playoff match. The winners will advance to the World Cup and the losers will drop to the intercontinental playoffs.

And if Australia are eliminated in the quarterfinals, the remaining three losers of the quarters will play a round robin playoff. The best team after three matches will qualify for the World Cup and the remaining two nations will play at the intercontinental playoffs.

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