South Korea’s Ji tar­gets women’s World Cup knock­out stages

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - SPORTS -

South Korea are hope­ful of qual­i­fy­ing for the knock­out stages of the women’s World Cup in France next month de­spite be­ing placed in a tough group, mid­fielder Ji So-yun has said.

The Asian nation is set for its third ap­pear­ance at the qua­dren­nial event but has never gone be­yond the last-16 and is pit­ted against higher-ranked teams in hosts France and Nor­way in Group A.

Hosts France are ranked fourth in the world, 10 places above Korea, while Nor­way are 12th but with­out Bal­lon d’or win­ner Ada Hegerberg, who has re­fused to play for the na­tional team.

Nige­ria, ranked 38th, are the fourth team in the group.

“Our first goal is to reach the sec­ond round,” Ji said in an interview on world soc­cer gov­ern­ing body FIFA’S web­site.

“I know that will be dif­fi­cult, but we can reach the goal only if we be­lieve we can.and once we reach the ini­tial goal, we’ll be hun­gry for more.” Ji, who was in­jured dur­ing South Korea’s 2015 World Cup cam­paign and watched on as France elim­i­nated them in the last-16, said she was over that dis­ap­point­ment and look­ing for­ward to fac­ing the hosts in the open­ing game on June 7.

“I re­mem­ber watch­ing the great play­ers of France beat­ing us, and I’m sure they’ve got even bet­ter now, but so have we,” the 28-year-old added. “I’ve grown into a bet­ter player than I was four years ago, and I’ve put that dis­ap­point­ment be­hind me.

“Four years ago, it was the first World Cup for ev­ery­body ex­cept (goal­keeper) Kim Jung-mi, but now we’ve got many play­ers who ex­pe­ri­enced the fi­nals four years ago.” Ji is com­ing off a good club sea­son in which she scored eight goals for Chelsea, in­clud­ing a stun­ning free-kick in the Cham­pi­ons League semi-fi­nals against even­tual cham­pi­ons Lyon, but does not have any per­sonal tar­gets for the World Cup.

“I al­ways screw up when­ever I set a per­sonal goal, so I just try to play my game and play bet­ter than I did four years ago,” she said.“i don’t re­ally care about the num­bers, goals or as­sists. “It doesn’t mat­ter if I score or not. I only hope we can reach our team goal and en­joy the game.”

Ji So-yun

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