Women's nat'l football coach planning to unleash players at top Asian tournament

유지호 / 2022-01-20 16:43:59
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▲ South Korea head coach Colin Bell attends a press conference ahead of the Asian Football Confederation Women's Asian Cup at Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, India, on Jan. 20, 2022, in this photo provided by the Korea Football Association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

▲ South Korean midfielder Ji So-yun attends a press conference ahead of the Asian Football Confederation Women's Asian Cup at Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, India, on Jan. 20, 2022, in this photo provided by the Korea Football Association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

▲ South Korea head coach Colin Bell (L) and midfielder Ji So-yun attend a press conference ahead of the Asian Football Confederation Women's Asian Cup at Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, India, on Jan. 20, 2022, in this photo provided by the Korea Football Association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

football tournament-coach

Women's nat'l football coach planning to unleash players at top Asian tournament

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Jan. 20 (Yonhap) -- Colin Bell, head coach of the South Korean women's national football team, believes he has a strong squad with "very talented players."

And when South Korea's pursuit of their first continental title begins Friday in India, Bell plans to unleash his players and let them prove themselves.

"I know we have a very good team and very talented players. It's time for us to release them and tell them to go on play and show what they can do, and concentrate on their own abilities," Bell said Thursday at an online press conference before the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women's Asian Cup. South Korea's opening Group C match will be against Vietnam on Friday, followed by Myanmar next Monday and then Japan on Jan. 27.

All South Korean matches will take place at Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, south of Delhi.

At No. 18 in the FIFA women's rankings, South Korea are the third-highest ranked team in the tournament, behind No. 11 Australia and No. 13 Japan. Bell implored his players to produce at a level befitting the team's status as one of the title favorites.

"We've come to try to win the tournament, but not forgetting the first step," Bell said. "That's tomorrow against Vietnam."

Bell called Vietnam, whom South Korean have beaten in all 11 meetings so far, "a very well-coached team" with "some exciting players." Their last meeting came in an Olympic qualifying match in February 2020 and South Korea prevailed 3-0.

"They know what they're doing. They have plans," he said. "Obviously, I am not going to go into detail on what we're going to do counter them. We also met in the qualification game for the Olympics. Both teams have developed. It's now a new game."

Bell said the focus during his team's preparation has been on improving players' overall fitness, so that they could play "high-intensity football."

"We need to be consistent for 90 to 95 minutes. So we worked on conditioning," Bell said. "We also want to give them the ability to express themselves. We want to give them the freedom and platform so that they can show their abilities."

South Korea may run into Australia, favored to win Group B, in their first knockout match in the quarterfinals, but Bell chose to keep his focus on the immediate future.

"I don't want to waste my energy trying to go through every possible scenario," Bell said. "I am only concerned about winning tomorrow. The next game is the most important. If we start to think two steps ahead, I don't think that's a wise decision."

There are three groups of four at the Women's Asian Cup, which will run through Feb. 6 across India. The top two teams from each group, plus the two-best third-place teams, will advance to the quarterfinals.

The competition will double as the Asian qualification for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup. The top five nations from the Women's Asian Cup will qualify for the World Cup, while two more teams will end up in the intercontinental playoffs.

Ji So-yun, South Korean football's all-time leading scorer with 59 goals in 131 matches, said she could hardly wait for the start of the competition.

"We've come here to win the tournament, not just to grab a ticket to the World Cup," Ji said at the presser alongside Bell. "We think Vietnam have been getting better with each match. Tomorrow, it's going to be a different match (than the Olympic qualifying victory in 2020)."

(END)

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