The South Korean women’s soccer team, led by head coach Colleen Bell (62, pictured), has failed to break through the world’s barriers after four years of hard work.
On March 3, South Korea tied 1-1 with Germany in their third group game of the Women’s World Cup in Australia-New Zealand, marking the second consecutive time they have been knocked out of the tournament. Having narrowly missed out on the trophy at the Asian Cup in India just a year ago, this time they faced a ‘wake-up call’.
The team’s hopes of reaching the round of 16 were dashed from the first step as a series of mistakes led to a goal against Colombia (0-2) in the first group game. The tournament as a whole also revealed the limitations of South Korea’s style of soccer. In the lead-up to the World Cup, Bell’s team went through what he described as a “hell of a training program. Aiming to reach the round of 16, their highest ever finish, the team tried to overcome their physical disadvantage with a combination of physicality, pressure, speed, and quick recovery.
However, in this tournament, we were outplayed, outcompeted, and outplayed. Not only in defense, but also in attack, our strikers could not get past the opponent’s defense, so there were many situations where we could not even get a good shot. Korea’s opponent was ranked outside the top 20 in the FIFA rankings, but the difference in athleticism was huge. “We kept losing the 50-50 (contested) battles,” said Ji So-yeon (Suwon FC), a former English Women’s Super League player, after back-to-back losses to Colombia and Morocco.
Bell’s leadership is also a question mark. After two consecutive defeats at the World Cup, where preparation is often judged, Bell came under fire for seemingly deflecting blame by insisting on the need for a complete overhaul of the squad, stating that “if you don’t play with intensity and show pace, you don’t have a chance in modern football”.
The team will immediately begin preparations for the Hangzhou Asian Games in September. Bell, who has a contract with the team through next year’s Paris Olympics, will be tested again. Having emphasized the need to nurture young talent during the World Cup, it seems likely that he will opt for a generational change with younger players instead of sticking with the current crop, which has an average age of 29. The youngest World Cup player, Casey Eugene Fair (PDA), and 2002-born striker Chun Garam (Hwacheon KSPO) could be among those who step up to the plate.안전놀이터
The Hangzhou Asian Games will feature 17 nations competing for gold, including South Korea. South Korea will once again attempt to match its best-ever finish as it is drawn in Group E alongside Hong Kong, the Philippines and Myanmar. Korea’s best Asian Games results were bronze in Guangzhou 2010, Incheon 2014 and Jakarta-Palembang 2018.