Australia, DPR Korea reach final, hosts China upset

08:14, May 28, 2010      

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Xu Yuan (R) of China vies with Yun Song Mi of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) during their semifinal match at the AFC Women's Asian Cup in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, May 27, 2010. DPRK won 1-0. (Xinhua/Purbu Zhaxi)

Reigning champions DPR Korea reached the final of the AFC Women's Asian Cup by edging hosts China 1-0 in the semis here on Thursday, while Australia also made the final after beating Japan 1-0.

The AFC women's Asian Cup is held in the soccer-mad city of Chengdu from May 19-30. The top three finishers will qualify for next year's World Cup in Germany.

DPR Korea and Australia now have both secured the berths of the World Cup, while China lost the good chance today and have to take on Japan in the third-place playoff on Sunday to fight for the last World Cup berth of Asia.

The defending champions harvested the unique goal on 108 minutes, 18 minutes into the extra time. Midfielder Kim Kyong Hwa pounced on the loose ball to break the deadlock after her teammate's shot was rejected.

"We missed a lot of chances today because our team are quite young and lack of experiences," said DPR Korea coach Kim Kwang Mim. "I am very proud of our players that they fought to the last minute."

The "Steel Roses" now stretched their poor record against DPR Korea, as their 1-0 win in the semifinal of the 2006 Asian Cup remains their only victory over the old foes in their last 14 encounters before this time in Chengdu.

"We performed quite well at the beginning, but DPR Korea are stronger than us," said Shang Ruihua, coach of the Chinese team. "We've expected to play the penalty shootout, but failed due to a mistake made by ourselves."

"I am satisfied with our players," he said. "It is the best game we played here at the Asian Cup. Now we still have chances for the World Cup, and we'll do our best."

"Japan have the best techniques of the last four teams," Shang added. "I didn't expect that they could be beaten by Australia, just as I didn't expect that we could lost due to one of our mistakes. But it is football. We will be very well prepared."

DPR Korea, who beat China 2-1 in the Asian Cup final two years ago, created many scoring chances but failed to cash in a single one in the regular time.

The reigning champions took advantage of the field with their offensive attacks and solid defense, while China were pressed into their own half most time of the first half. The hosts even failed to make a real challenging attack against DPR Korea's goalmouth before the break.

China improved their performance in the second half and launched several counter attacks, but they still failed to open the scoring.

DPR Korea could have taken the lead when Ra Un Sim's powerful shot went narrowly wide in the 21st minute, two minutes before Kim Kyong Hwa's long shot was denied by China's goalkeeper Zhang Yanru.

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