The Korean U-20 women’s football team will kick off their World Cup campaign on Thursday evening with their opening Group C game against Canada at Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Korea was drawn into Group C at the 2022 U-20 Women’s World Cup alongside Canada, France, and Nigeria. With no official world rankings available at the U-20 level, FIFA manages the draw based on the team’s performance over the previous five tournaments, with France falling into Pot 1, Nigeria Pot 2, Korea Pot 3, and Canada Pot 4.
None of the Group C teams have ever won the World Cup, which has been dominated predominantly by Germany and the United States since its creation in 2002, with three wins each. Japan has won once and is the current reigning champion, while North Korea, which has won twice, is the only former winner not competing.
Korea’s best finish at the U-20 World Cup was third place in 2010, when the young Taeguk Ladies lost to eventual winners Germany in the semifinals and then beat Colombia in the third-place playoff. Canada, France, and Nigeria have all gone one step further, all finishing as runner-up at some point in the past — France most recently in 2016.
But the nature of youth tournaments means that previous achievements offer little indication of the ability of the current squad, as the revolving door of age-based entry requirements means that the stars of one tournament have moved up by the time the next tournament comes around two years later.
Of the current U-20 squad, goalkeeper Kim Kyeong-hee is the only player signed to a WK League club, Changnyeong WFC.
Of the remaining players, 16 play for university clubs: Goalkeeper Do Yoon-ji of Dankook University; defenders Lee Su-in and Han Da-in of Korea University, Kim Min-ji and Lee Da-yune of Daeduk University, Bin Hyeon-jin and Lee Jeong-yeon of Uiduk University and Moon Ha-yeon of Gangwon State University; midfielders Kim Myeong-jin, Lee Se-ran, Seo Hyun-min and Lee Eun-young of Korea University and Kim Eun-ju and Chun Ga-ram of Ulsan College; and forwards Ko Da-young of Daeduk University and Go Yoon-a of Ulsan College.
The remaining four players are high school students: Goalkeeper Woo Seo-bin of Pohang Girls’ Electronic High School; midfielders Bae Ye-bin and Jeon Yu-hyeong of Pohang Girls’ Electronic High School and Won Chae-eun of Ulsan Hyundai High School.
After facing Canada on Thursday, or at 11 a.m. on Friday in Korea, the young Taeguk Ladies will go on to face Nigeria on Sunday and France next Wednesday. The knockout stage will then begin on Aug. 20.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]