“I had nothing to lose. So far, we haven’t been able to show our skills properly. I ran as far as I could.” Korean women’s soccer team striker Casey Eugene Fair (16, PDA) said this after a 1-1 draw against Germany in the 3rd match of Group 스포츠토토 H of the 2023 Australia-New Zealand Women’s World Cup on the 3rd. Korea has already lost two games and is driven to the brink. It was a regrettable finish, earning one point against the world’s second-ranked Germany with all its might.
Pair was substituted in the first match against Colombia on the 25th of last month and became the youngest ever World Cup participant (16 years and 26 days), both male and female. In the third match against Germany, she started. Pairs are paradoxical in the Korean women’s soccer team. The average age of the Korean national team for this tournament is 28.9 years old. It was the oldest of the 32 participating countries. Among them was the youngest player overall.
Fair played diligently, but she managed only two shots (one on target) in three games. Since she has quick feet, it also had the effect of having 1 or 2 of her opponent’s defenders stay by the pair, but it still lacked detail. Garam Chun (21, Hwacheon KSPO), who represents the ‘young blood’ along with Fair, also did her part by playing diligently and making accurate tackles while participating in two games. FIFA (International Football Federation) restricts the nationality change of players who played in the World Cup, so the pair must wear the Taegeuk mark in the future.
After this World Cup, the so-called ‘golden generation’ of women’s soccer is preparing to leave the stage. Four years later, at the World Cup, 12 players in their 30s included in the roster for this tournament, including key players Cho So-hyun (35, Tottenham) and Ji So-yeon (32, Suwon FC), cannot be guaranteed to participate. Now, Korean women’s soccer ‘generation change’ is not a necessity, but an inevitable choice.
Compared to strong Japan, which won the World Cup in 2011 and runner-up in 2015, the difference is striking. The average age of the Japanese team for this tournament is 24.8 years old, which is the fourth youngest among 32 countries. As a result of accelerating the generational change and selecting players who have achieved results in the national team by age group, Japan is cruising with 3 victories (11 goals and no goals) in the group stage of this tournament. Commentator Park Moon-seong said, “The need for a generational change has emerged in Korea, which is relatively behind in this World Cup.” It is necessary to foster talent, such as conducting a prospect program at the football association level,” he said.
Coach Bell emphasized ‘high intensity’ and hoped that the players would have the stamina to run fast from time to time while enduring until the second half. In response, he repeated sprint (short-distance sprinting) training. Korea did not allow a goal in the second half of all three games. However, inaccurate shooting and crosses followed. The Korean players said in unison, “It’s a pity that we couldn’t show all our skills,” but in the end, only one goal was scored in a sports event where goals should be scored. It is pointed out that “you have to look to see if you missed the basic skills while paying attention to ‘high intensity’.”