South Korea continued on their incredible run at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup after they dispatched the Philippines 2-0 in their semi-final match to qualify for their first-ever Asian Cup final. They had previously reached the semi-final four times without any further success.
This is a very significant result for the South Koreans as they had to come through a pre-qualifying tournament just to make it into the Asian Cup. This was due to their poor performance in the 2018 Asian Cup where they finished outside of the top three.
In the qualifying tournament, they were placed in a group with Uzbekistan and Mongolia. They dispatched them 4-0 and 12-0 respectively to qualify for the Asian Cup main draw. This time around, they knew that the opposition would be a lot tougher.
They came into the tournament as the fourth highest-ranked team behind Australia, Japan and China. South Korea won their first two group matches against Myanmar and Vietnam. They won these matches without conceding a goal, but, as they were expected to win these games, they were routine victories. Their big test would come in their last group match against two-time defending champions Japan.
South Korea passed this test with flying colors as they held them to a 1-1 draw. They ended the group stage with the same number of points as Japan, but crucially they had a worse goal difference and therefore had to settle for second place in the group.
Although they still qualified for the quarter-finals, they now had to face the highest-ranked team and tournament favorite Australia. They secured a 1-0 win over a team that had reached the semi-finals of the Olympics in Tokyo. It was a huge win for the South Koreans. Their semi-final spot guaranteed their place at the 2023 World Cup, which ironically is to be staged in Australia.
In the semis, they were up against another side on their own dream run. The Philippines had just qualified for their first-ever World Cup, but they were no match for the South Koreans, who comfortably won the match 2-0 to reach their maiden Asian Cup final, where they would face China. China upset defending champions Japan in the semi-finals, winning on penalties after the match ended 2-2.