The South Korean women’s football team will likely avoid Japan in the early stages of the Hangzhou Asian Games but may face North Korea after a sudden bracket change announced Monday.
The Asian Games women’s football schedule on Monday remains unconfirmed, with both English and Chinese-language sources listing the winner of Group E — the group that South Korea is playing in — as facing either the winner of Group C or the runner-up of Group D. The original schedule showed the Group E winners playing the Group D winners in the quarterfinals.
It is unclear when the scheduling confusion will be resolved or what factor will determine the decision.
South Korea is in Group E and Japan is in Group D, which would have made the two sides — both are favorites to win their groups — face each other if the schedule had not altered. The two countries will only meet in the final under the new schedule, if they both win their groups.
South Korea will instead face North Korea in the quarterfinals, if they win Group E and North Korea wins Group C.
A Korea Football Association official said Monday that the Asian Games organizing committee gave them a revised schedule without explaining why it changed.
The bracket change may be because Cambodia suddenly dropped out of the tournament. The Asiad’s official website shows 16 teams competing, as opposed to the original 17.
The Asiad women’s football tournament includes five groups in total. Group A and B have three teams apiece and Group C has two teams, while Groups D and E have four each.
Five group winners and the three best runners-up will reach the quarterfinals.
South Korea will play their first group stage match against Myanmar on Friday, before facing the Philippines on Sept. 25 and Hong Kong on Sept. 28.
The first two games will take place at Wenzhou Sports Center Stadium in Wenzhou, China, while the last match will be held at Wenzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium.
The Taeguk Ladies have won three bronze medals at the Asian Games from the past three consecutive tournaments.
BY PAIK JI-HWAN [email@example.com]