It’s time for another change in South Korean women’s soccer.
In August 2019, the Korean Football Association appointed Choi In-cheol to replace Yoon Deok-yeo, who had led the women’s national soccer team for seven years from 2012.
However, Choi resigned less than 10 days later amid allegations that he had assaulted a former player, prompting a search for a replacement and the appointment of the first foreign coach, Colin Bell.
Expectations were high for Bell.
Bell was named head coach of German women’s Bundesliga side FFC Frankfurt in 2013 and led them to the 2014 German Cup and the 2015 UEFA Women’s Champions League.
In the 2015-2016 season, she was named head coach of Norwegian side Avaldnes, and in 2017, she took charge of the Irish women’s national team. With Bell at the helm, the Women’s National Team has been able to read the trends in world soccer and implant advanced soccer.
The Women’s National Team has come a long way in their four years under Bell. However, the lack of tangible results has been criticized.
The team failed to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, failed to win the 2022 Asian and East Asian Cups, crashed out of the group stage of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, failed to win a medal at the 2023 Hangzhou Asian Games, and failed to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
This year’s Women’s World Cup, which had been four years in the making, saw the team advance to the quarterfinals, only to be knocked out in the group stage with one draw and two losses, highlighting a stark gap that has yet to be bridged with world football. 캡틴토토
The lack of depth at the back, which has been cited as one of the biggest weaknesses in women’s soccer, has yet to improve.
In April 2021, the team went down 2-0 away to China in the final qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics before conceding a goal through Thul.
In the final match of the Women’s Asian Cup in India in February last year, they faced China again, scoring two goals in the first half to take the lead, only to concede three goals in the second half. In the East Asian Cup in Japan in July that year, South Korea scored the opening goal in a 1-1 draw.
In the final match of the second Asian qualifying round for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games on July 1, South Korea scored first against China before conceding another goal to fail to advance.
In April, the Korean Football Association agreed to extend Bell’s contract until December 2024. However, since the announcement of the extension, the team has failed to produce results in the Women’s World Cup, the Hangzhou Asian Games, and the Paris Olympic qualifiers.
The failure to qualify for next year’s Olympic Games in Paris has left both Bell and the team demotivated.
After the Women’s World Cup failure, South Korea’s women’s soccer program is at a crossroads. The golden generation of Ji So-yeon (Suwon FC) and Cho So-hyun (Birmingham City), who have led the national team for more than a decade, are virtually guaranteed to miss the next World Cup, and it’s time to slowly prepare for a generational change.
As the saying goes, ‘new booze in new bottles’, and it will be interesting to see if women’s soccer is ready for another change.