National Team - Lionesses ● Sep 25, 2023
Lionesses suffer humbling 7-0 defeat in Asian Games opener against DPR Korea
DPR Korea’s An Myongsong against Singapore’s Irsalina Irwan, September 2023. Credit: Sport Singapore / Jeremy Lee
SINGAPORE, 24 SEPTEMBER 2023 – It was a night to forget for the Singapore Women’s Team, as their debut Asian Games campaign got off to a bleak start with a 7-0 defeat at the hands of Asian women’s football powerhouse, the Democratic People’s Republic of (DPR) Korea.
The Lionesses struggled to find their footing as the tenacious DPR Koreans dominated possession right from the get-go. DPR Korea’s Hong Songok found the net just 26 seconds into the match, only for it to be ruled as offside. However, this did not deter the forward, as in the 11th minute, An Myongsong provided a splendid assist from the right to Songok, who broke the deadlock with a calm finish.
Three minutes later, DPR Korea struck again, as midfielder Ri Hak’s corner found Ri Kumhyang, who headed it past custodian Noor Kusumawati. Head Coach Karim Bencherifa’s charges managed to hold off their relentless opponents till half-time, with the score standing at a respectable 2-0.
Singapore’s goalkeeper Noor Kusumawati earned her 50th international cap in the Asian Games opener match against DPR Korea, September 2023. Credit: Sport Singapore / Jeremy Lee
The second half, however, turned into a nightmare for the Lionesses, and it was especially heart-wrenching for Kusumawati, who earned her 50th international cap in the most unfavourable circumstances as North Korea unleashed a relentless barrage of goals. In the 51st minute, defender Ri Myonggum outran her marker and delivered a cross to midfielder Myong Yujong, who scored with a header. Just two minutes later, Myonggum’s corner was converted into a goal by Ju Hyosim, with a simple finish.
In the 58th minute, Ri Hak added to the goal fest by capitalising on a long ball from Myonggum, who has proven to be a linchpin of defence in the backline throughout the match. Merely four minutes later, Hyosim employed a swift passing movement with her teammates, before passing it to forward An Myongsong, who made a composed cross, as fellow forward Kim Kyongyong exploited the unguarded goalpost to add another goal.
The final blow came in three minutes of stoppage time – midfielder Ri Sujong executed a precise through ball to forward Sung Hyangsim. Despite a valiant attempt by skipper Rosnani Azman and midfielder Dhaniyah Qasimah to thwart the attack, the nimble Hyangsim made it look effortless, sliding the ball past Wati and extending the final score to a daunting 7-0.
DPR Korea’s Choe Kumok in action with Singapore’s Ho Hui Xin, September 2023. Credit: Sport Singapore/ Jeremy Lee
Despite the scoreline not being in their favour, Coach Karim said that he commended the spirited efforts of his players both individually and as a team. However, he acknowledged that it was always going to be an uphill challenge when playing against an opponent that was ranked in the top ten in FIFA global rankings as recently as of December 2022: “Of course, we are short on a few things when playing a team like DPR Korea that we cannot fix overnight: the speed, skills level, height, and physicality. That showed in most of the goals, which came from headers off crosses or set pieces. It’s like in men’s football playing against Germany or Spain”.
Coach Karim continued by saying that he looks ahead to the future, expressing confidence in the team: “Our young team will continue to give their best and keep learning how to compete at the highest stage in the continent. Remember that we are blooding some potentially quality players in this competition. In the first game, we had Irsalina at 16, Sarah Zurisqha at 17, and Nurerwadah at 19, among others, and this was a great opportunity to be exposed to top-quality opposition and they will understand what it will require for them to raise their own abilities to be able to compete at the same level. We will be looking forward to competing in the upcoming games and trying to do better. This is part of the team’s learning curve, and it is a process.”
DPR Korea’s Wi Jongsim with Singapore’s Rosnani Azman, September 2023. Credit: Sport Singapore/ Jeremy Lee
With Cambodia pulling out from the Asian Games, Singapore will have to play DPR Korea a second time this Wednesday, 27 September, in a massive bid to try and overturn the first result if they are to stand any chance of qualifying for the next round of the competition.
Singapore: Noor Kusumawati, Sarah Zu’risqha, Nurerwadah Erwan, Farhanah Ruhaizat, Irsalina Irwan (Khairunnisa Anwar 85’), Ho Hui Xin, Mastura Jeilani (Stephanie Dominguez 79’), Dhaniyah Qasimah, Rosnani Azman, Syazwani Ruzi, Nicole Lim (Sitianiwati Rosielin 73’)
Unused subs: Beatrice Tan, Erlinawaty Jaffar, Raudhah Kamis, Farah Nurzahirah, Afiqah Omar, Adrianna Hazeri, Nasriah Ibrahim, Venetia Lim
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