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Two Koreas to square off in women’s football

Oct 21,2019
The women’s national football teams of South Korea and North Korea will square off south of the border with a place in the 2020 Olympics at stake.

The Koreas were placed in Group A, along with Vietnam and Myanmar, in the third round of the Asian qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, following a draw held at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday.

The South Korean island of Jeju will host the third round matches from Feb. 3-9, 2020.

There are eight nations in the third round. The four remaining teams ? Australia, China, Thailand and Chinese Taipei ? were drawn into Group B and will play their matches in a yet-to-be-determined city in China.

The top two teams from each group will move on to the final round scheduled for March, and the top two from there will qualify for the Olympics.

Women’s football joined the Olympic program in 1996, and South Korea, dubbed the Taeguk Ladies, has never played at the quadrennial event.

North Korea is the top-ranked team in Group A at No. 9, followed by South Korea (20th), Vietnam (34th) and Myanmar (45th).

Unlike the men’s Olympic tournament, which is limited to under-23 players except for a maximum three overage players permitted per nation, the women’s Olympic football competition is open to all senior players.

In 19 inter-Korean meetings, South Korea has won just one match, with three draws and 15 losses. North Korea played at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, getting sent home in the group stage each time. South Korea has won all 10 meetings against Vietnam and all five matches against Myanmar.

In addition to the announcement of the match schedule, the Korea Football Association (KFA) announced the new head coach of the Korean women’s football team.

Colin Bell of Britain is now the head coach of the South Korean women’s national football team.

He’s signed through the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Bell, 58, is the first foreign national to coach the South Korean women’s team. Bell played for FSV Mainz 05 in the Bundesliga in the 1980s and has enjoyed a far more decorated career as a coach. He led 1. FFC Frankfurt to the UEFA Women’s Champions League title in 2015, a year after winning the German league cup with the same club.

He’d been the Irish women’s team head coach from 2017 to June this year. Before accepting the South Korean job, Bell was the assistant head coach for Huddersfield Town in the English Football League Championship.

Bell fills the vacancy left by the departure of Choi In-cheul in early September. Choi was named to the job in late August but resigned a few days later in the face of allegations that he’d physically and verbally assaulted his players.

The KFA said Bell has a wealth of coaching experience at both the club and international level, and his deep understanding of modern football and his player-oriented managerial philosophy will help take the South Korean program to the next level.

Bell will have his introductory press conference at the KFA House in Seoul on Tuesday. He’s expected to make his South Korean debut in December at the East Asian Football Federation E-1 Football Championship.

Yonhap