PAJU -- South Korean women's football coach Yoon Duk-yeo said Tuesday his side is determined to grab a ticket to the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.
Yoon's team will depart for Jordan on Thursday to compete in the 2018 Asian Football Confederation Women's Asian Cup that will be held from April 6 to 20. The competition will double as the final Asian qualifier for the 2019 World Cup in France, with the top five nations qualifying for the showpiece event of women's football.
Yoon already unveiled his 23-player roster earlier this month, and the players have been training at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul, since March 15.
"It's very important for us to make two consecutive World Cup appearances," Yoon told reporters at the NFC in Paju. "We hope we can deliver good performances to fans who support women's football."
South Korea women`s national football team players and coaching staff pose for a photo at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
At the AFC Women's Asian Cup, South Korea is in Group B against defending champions Japan, Australia and Vietnam.
Australia is the top AFC team in the FIFA women's rankings at No. 6, followed by Japan at No. 11. South Korea is No. 16, and Vietnam sits at No. 35. Group A features hosts Jordan (No. 51), China (No. 17), Thailand (No. 30) and the Philippines (No. 72).
Yoon said the opening match against Australia on April 7 is the most important. The 57-year-old coach said the players will know how to handle physical Australians after playing European opponents at the Feb. 28-March 7 Algarve Cup in Portugal. South Korea faced Russia, Sweden, Canada and Norway at the Algarve Cup, though they failed to collect a single win.
"Australia is the strongest team in Asia and possesses both power and speed," he said. "We hope we can collect some points against Australia."
At the AFC event, the top two teams from the two groups will reach the semifinals, and the third-place teams from each group will square off in the fifth-place match for the last ticket to the FIFA Women's World Cup.
Yoon, who has been leading the women's national football team since 2013, said he is confident that his players will accomplish the task of reaching the World Cup.
"We will try to reach the last four and secure the World Cup ticket," he said. "I've spent a long time with the players, and now they know what I want. We understand each other well, and we have a common goal."
South Korea reached the AFC Women's Asian Cup after winning their qualifying campaign in Pyongyang last year. Yoon said their memories in North Korea will make them stronger.
"We really fought hard in Pyongyang, and if we didn't earn a good result, we wouldn't be here," he said. "If the players can think of what we've been through, I'm sure we can do well at the Asian Cup."
The Taeguk Ladies are scheduled to play a practice match with male players from Nunggok High School later Tuesday. Yoon said the match will help his players to cope with physical opponents at the Asian Cup.
"I think the level of our women's football has been upgraded," he said. "Whether it's men or women, quick tempo has been an important factor in football, and we'll try to follow that trend." (Yonhap)