- Japan, Korea DPR and Korea Republic qualify for FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup
- Young Nadeshiko retain continental championship for record sixth time
- Oto Kanno claims tournament’s MVP award, Kang Jiwoo finishes top scorer
The curtain was brought down on Asia's qualification for the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 2020 on Saturday as Japan, Korea DPR and Korea Republic secured podium finishes at the 2019 AFC U-19 Women's Championship, thus stamping their tickets to next year’s global finals.
Holders Japan conquered all, edging Korea DPR 2-1 in the final to clinch the continental title for a record sixth time. Futoshi Ikeda's Young Nadeshiko maintained their fluid play and admirable teamwork throughout.
"I am delighted that we are the champions of this tournament," the 49-year-old coach, who guided Japan to their maiden U-20 Women’s World Cup title at France 2018, told the media after his side’s triumph.
"The real strength of this team is that we don't have any players who stand out, all the players I have at my disposal are of a very high quality. All the players can perform a vital role, and that is down to the excellent teamwork that we have within the squad."
Despite falling to Japan in the tournament decider for a third consecutive time, two-time U-20 Women’s World Cup champions Korea DPR remained a formidable force capable of competing against any team at the tournament.
Having missed out on the last U-20 Women's World Cup, Korea Republic bounced back to seal their return to the global finals with a third-place finish.
Asia's qualified teams for U-20 Women's World Cup:
- Champions: Japan
- Runners-up: Korea DPR
- Third-place: Korea Republic
Road to U-20 Women’s World Cup
Japan opened their AFC U-19 Women's Championship brightly with a 5-0 defeat of Myanmar before sweeping past Korea Republic 2-0. After winning their group with a narrow win against China PR, they thumped Australia 7-0 to reach the final and thus seal passage to the U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Korea DPR, too, had few problems during the group campaign, beating Australia (5-1), Vietnam (3-0) and hosts Thailand (3-1) to advance to the final four. They went on to complete their qualifying mission by overcoming Korea Republic 3-1 in the decisive semi-final clash.
It proved a bumpy road for Korea Republic en route to qualification. Despite registering a hard-fought 2-1 victory against China PR in the opener, they fell 2-0 at the hands of Japan, with only a solitary-goal win against Myanmar confirming their progression to the knockouts. While they lost to Korea DPR in the consequent semi-final, Korea Republic pulled off a 9-1 demolition of Australia in the third-place playoff to secure Asia’s final remaining berth to next year's U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Midfielder Oto Kanno played a vital role for Japan en route to their continental title triumph. The Japan No10 managed to score twice against Korea Republic and Australia respectively, before providing an assist for Japan's opening goal against Korea DPR in the final. Kanno’s sterling performances earned her the tournament’s MVP award. Yuzuki Yamamoto, meanwhile, finished as Japan’s top scorer with five goals in four matches, which included the opening goal against Korea DPR in the final.
But topping the tournament scoring chart overall with seven goals was Kang Jiwoo, Korea Republic's dynamic forward who scored a brace in her country’s crucial win over China PR. The teenager then went on to run riot against Australia, grabbing four goals to help her side to the tournament's biggest win.
2019 AFC U-19 Women's Championship awards:
- Most Valuable Player: Oto Kanno (Japan)
- Top Scorer: Kang Jiwoo (Korea Republic, 7 goals)