Monday, August 18, 2014

FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Toronto: North Korea vs. USA!

The FIFA Under 20 Women's World Cup is being played here in Canada this summer. The rules of this tournament are just the same as the "big boys'" World Cup, except that the players are women aged 17 to 19. Sixteen teams qualified for the U20WWC.

I have always wanted to attend a World Cup match and this one was played on a Saturday afternoon just a transit ride from my apartment. Perfect. It was a quarterfinal match so when I bought the tickets last month, we didn't know which teams we'd be seeing. In the end, the opponents were USA versus the team variously referred to as North Korea/Korea DPR/PR Korea/PRK. It was a well-balanced pairing!

I brought my good zoom camera to the match, wrapped in a plastic bag against the rain. I think this is the first time I've used the 'sports' mode for photographing actual sports.

The match in photos from the third row:

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - flags
Opening formalities.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - North Korean anthem time
North Korean anthem time. Their uniforms seem to include a team haircut. Very practical, ladies.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - American anthem time
Star Spangled Banner time.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - the refs
Here are the refs.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - pre-game handshake
Pre-match handshake.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - USWNT huddle
US team huddle.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - North Korea huddle
North Korean team huddle.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup
Game on! Lots of excellent footwork on display for both sides. The North Koreans seemed to have more cohesive teamwork, though.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup
It was raining throughout the first half.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - BMO Stadium
The stands look a little empty but attendance was 7,200. More people were sitting on our side of the stadium.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - USA celebrates their goal
USA celebrates Mackenzey Doniak's goal at the six minute mark.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - North Korean throw-in
The famous Brazuca ball.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - FIFA in Toronto
FIFA flag over Toronto.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - Half Time
USA was up 1:0 at half time.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - Jon So-Yon scores
Jon Yo-Son scored with a penalty kick at 54 minutes. The ball is in the bottom right corner of the net. The score stayed at 1:1 through to 90 minutes and 30 minutes of overtime.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - Mackenzy Doniak had a chance with this kick
Lindsey Horan had a chance with this free kick but couldn't break the tie in overtime.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - penalty kick time
A very close match: possession was 51% North Korea and 49% USA. Now it was down to penalty kicks.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - USWMNT reserves watch the penalty kicks
USA substitutes watch the tie-breaking penalty kicks.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - penalty kick time
Waiting for penalty kicks to begin.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - Fans of North Korea
Some North Korean flags emerge from the crowd! To be honest, I think many of the Canadian spectators were cheering for North Korea... I confess I was favouring the reds, too, just because I suspect those ladies have had extremely tough lives training as athletes to represent North Korea.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - Kim Chol-Ok stops the kick
Kim Chol-Ok stopped three of four penalty kicks. Apparently she just loves penalties! (The ball is in front of the S in Emirates.)

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - winning penalty kick
Katelyn Rowland allowed three out of the four penalty kicks she faced. (The ball is in front of the T in Emirates.)

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - Winning Moment
North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - Winning Moment for North Korea
The winning moment for North Korea!

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - Kim Chol-Ok shakes US coach's hand
Kim Chol-Ok shakes hands with the US coach. The keeper was voted Player of the Match.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - Handshake
Some long faces on the American players who were now eliminated from the tournament.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - Winning Tears
And a few tears of relief for the North Korean players, particularly the girl with the taped knee who had been taken off injured.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - Winners' Bow
Thanking the crowd for their support.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup
We were undeniably damp but it was a good evening out with co-workers.

North Korea vs USA, U-20 Women's World Cup - After the game
It's all over at BMO Field. No more U20WWC matches in Toronto and sadly, none of the 2015 Women's World Cup matches will be played here, either.

Official FIFA video recap here. Match report here.

Four teams now remain in the tournament: North Korea, Germany, Nigeria and France. Follow the rest of the U20WWC here.

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