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S. Korea coach wants to 'make history' in women's Olympic football qualifiers

Sports 14:17 April 07, 2021

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, April 7 (Yonhap) -- As head coach of the South Korean women's national football team, Colin Bell is determined to make history.

Bell will take the Taeguk Ladies against China in the two-legged playoff for the final Asian spot at this year's Tokyo Olympics. The opening match will be at Goyang Stadium in Goyang, just northwest of Seoul, at 4 p.m. Thursday. The second leg will take place at Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre in Suzhou next Tuesday -- at 4 p.m. local time and 5 p.m. in South Korea.

In this file photo from March 22, 2021, Colin Bell, head coach of the South Korean women's national football team, watches his players during practice at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, in preparation for Olympic qualifying playoff matches against China. (Yonhap)

Women's football made its Olympic debut in Atlanta in 1996, and South Korea have never qualified for the event.

In his prematch press conference Wednesday, Bell said he wants to change that narrative.

"Obviously, the team is very motivated. We want to make history. That's what's driving everybody," Bell said, answering pre-submitted questions in an online session. "It's a big chance for us. There's a lot at stake. We want to have a positive approach and enjoy both matches. But we can only really enjoy them only if we're successful. We're going to give everything we have to get to the Olympics."

South Korea and China were scheduled to meet in February last year, but the matches were postponed multiple times as the global coronavirus pandemic raged on. The Olympic Games themselves got pushed back by a year, and the football qualifiers were rescheduled for 2021. They were initially set for Feb. 19 and 24 but were later moved to April.

In this file photo from March 22, 2021, South Korean women's national football team players warm up before practice at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, in preparation for Olympic qualifying playoff matches against China. (Yonhap)

South Korea are ranked 18th in the world, three spots below China. In 37 meetings so far, South Korea have four wins, six draws and 27 losses against China. South Korea are winless in the five most recent matches against China with four losses and one draw. Their last victory against the neighbors came in August 2015.

Bell conceded the Chinese may be favored and he was aware of South Korea's previous results against them.

"China are physically and technically strong. They've maybe had more time to prepare," Bell said. "We just know that, as a unit, they're going to be very strong and very dynamic. We need to be ready. Obviously, they have quality in all areas of the team."

The coach will look to his three England-based players to provide leadership and scoring chances: Ji So-yun of Chelsea FC Women, Cho So-hyun of Tottenham Hotspur FC Women and Lee Geum-min of Brighton & Hove Albion.

"They all have individual qualities and class, and we want to use these attributes as well as we can to make the difference," Bell said. "The core of the team is the home-based players. We have to gel together very well and combine very well together."

In this file photo from March 22, 2021, Colin Bell (L), head coach of the South Korean women's national football team, watches his players during practice at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, in preparation for Olympic qualifying playoff matches against China. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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