S. Korea lose to Japan to open regional women’s football tournament

SEOUL, July 19 (Yonhap) — South Korea fell to Japan 2-1 to begin an East Asian women’s football tournament Tuesday, as their winless skid against the regional foe reached seven.

Ji So-yun’s second-half goal wasn’t enough for South Korea in their first match of the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) E-1 Women’s Football Championship at Kashima Soccer Stadium in Kashima, Japan.

South Korea, world No. 18, conceded the first goal to Hinata Miyazawa in the 33rd minute due to an unfortunate bounce inside their own box. Defender Shim Seo-yeon’s clearing attempt ricocheted off her teammate, Jang Selgi, and the ball found its way to Yui Narumiya. She then set up Miyazawa for an easy goal into an open net, with the scrambling goalkeeper Kim Jung-mi caught well out of position.

Ji leveled the score for South Korea in the 59th minute, taking a low shot through three defenders and beating goalkeeper Momoko Tanaka to her right.

But the 13th-ranked Japan reclaimed their lead just six minutes later, when Fuka Nagano converted Riko Ueki’s pass just inside the box.

South Korea’s push for an equalizer proved futile, with Choe Yu-ri hitting the top of the crossbar in late moments and Jang You-been’s diving header during injury time going straight to Tanaka.

South Korea have four wins, 11 draws and 18 losses against Japan so far, and their last victory came in August 2015.

South Korea will next face China on Saturday and then Chinese Taipei next Tuesday, both of them in Kashima. The team with the best record after round-robin action will be the champion.

The women’s EAFF tournament was first contested in 2005, and South Korea won the inaugural title. They are now chasing their first title since that year.

Japan beat South Korea for the most recent EAFF title in 2019.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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