S. Korea coach calls draw vs. Japan at women's football tourney 'confidence boost'

유지호 / 2022-01-27 19:36:09
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S Korea football-coach
▲ South Korea head coach Colin Bell watches his team in action against 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, in this photo provided by the Korea Football Association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

▲ In this Associated Press photo, Choe Yu-ri of South Korea (L) battles Saki Kumagai 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)

▲ Lee Geum-min of South Korea (C) dribbles between Hikaru Naomoto (L) and Fuka Nagano 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, in this photo provided by the Korea Football Association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

S Korea football-coach

S. Korea coach calls draw vs. Japan at women's football tourney 'confidence boost'

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Jan. 27 (Yonhap) -- For South Korea women's football head coach Colin Bell, his team's 1-1 draw against Japan at the top Asian women's competition on Thursday almost felt like a win.

After giving up a goal only about 30 seconds in, South Korea got their equalizer in the 85th minute for a hard-fought point to close out Group C at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women's Asian Cup in India.

Japan still won the group over South Korea on goal difference, as both countries are moving on to the quarterfinals as the top two seeds. More importantly, Bell said holding the two-time defending champs was just the kind of boost his players needed entering the quarterfinals against the top seed from Group B. Though the matchup wasn't set after the Korean match, Australia were expected to win the group and play South Korea on Sunday.

"At the end of the day, the 1-1 draw was a fair result and it gives us confidence to take a very tough quarterfinals match against Australia," Bell said at his postmatch press conference. "After the first half, we were not on our best form. We needed a good second half and to get the result to keep our confidence level as high as possible."

This tournament is also serving as the final Asian qualifying stage for the 2023 FIFA World Cup. As much as South Korea are trying to win the Asian Cup for the first time, Bell said the "biggest objective" is to qualify for the World Cup as one of the top five teams at the Asian Cup.

"That's why we needed to get ourselves a confidence boost," Bell added. "And if you play 1-1 against Japan, that has to give every team confidence."

South Korea opened the tournament last Friday and have been playing with only two days of break in between matches. They will get two days off again before playing in the quarterfinals.

Bell said the key to his team's preparation is to recover and be ready against a physical Australian side.

"They have a really physical team and a lot of good players," Bell said. "Our medical team has been doing a great job to keep the girls fit. We need to recover again. It's a very tight schedule."

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.

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