Matildas defeated by DPR Korea in Coffs Harbour

The Matildas hopes of qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games have been effectively dashed following a 2-0 defeat at the hands of DPR Korea in Coffs Harbour today.

The Matildas hopes of qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games have been effectively dashed following a 2-0 defeat at the hands of DPR (North) Korea at the BCU International Stadium in Coffs Harbour today.

Two second half strikes from the visitors ensured a repeat of the scoreline in Pyongyang last week and leaves the Matildas six points behind DPR Korea with two matches remaining. The team ranked number five in the world and the best in Asia need only to earn a point in their remaining matches against group minnows Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei to guarantee top spot and qualification from Group B.

After a tight first half DPR Korea broke the deadlock scoring the all-important opening goal of the match on the hour with a far post close-range header from captain Ri Kum Suk. The match was virtually put of reach of their home side nine minutes later, and with the Matildas needing a win to stay level with DPR Korea, with Kim Kyong Hwa unleashing an unstoppable shot from outside the penalty area to double their advantage.

Australia came closest to scoring just prior to Korea-s opening goal when midfielder Collette McCallum floated a free kick just over crossbar and onto the roof of the net.

“Sometimes you simply get beaten by a better team and at the moment I would say that DPR Korea are probably as close to being as unbeatable as any women-s team that I have seen,” said Matildas coach Tom Sermanni.

“So in that sense I am very disappointed for the players because I believe that had we played like we did against virtually any other team we would have won the game.

“The effort was absolutely unbelievable and the players gave everything possible.

“The unfortunate thing today was that we were having our best spell of the game and had built up some good momentum when we conceded that opening goal so that was heartbreaking.”

The visitors started the match with intent and had a strong claim for a penalty after five minutes with Thea Slatyer appearing to bring down Kim Yong Ae however play was waved on.

The Koreans had some dangerous moments around the penalty area in the first half without really testing Australian goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri.

The Matildas custodian though was at full stretch seven minutes from the interval when a Korean shot from distance skims just wide of the post.

At the other end of the field the forward line of Jo Burgess, Kate Gill and Sarah Walsh are invariably surrounded by a swarming group of defenders whenever they get the ball.

Australia-s best period of the match is immediately after half time with Gill firing an awkward chance wide from 12 yards before McCallum-s free-kick over the crossbar a few minutes later.

Despite the Australian defence being breached twice in the space of ten minutes the back-line quartet of captain Cheryl Salisbury, Thea Slatyer, Di Alagich and Kate McShea battled stoicly throughout.

Spotted amongst the 2,121 crowd were USA coach Greg King and Canadian coach Even Pellerud, both of whom will have plenty to contemplate with the USA matched against DPR Korea, and Canada with Australia in their respective World Cup groups.

In the previous group matches Australia defeated Hong Kong 15-0 and Chinese Taipei 10-0 in April, while DPR Korea won 14-0 and 8-0 against the same opponents respectively.

Australia have only defeated DPR Korea once in their previous six matches dating back to their first meeting in 1998.

Match Details

Australia 0 DPR Korea 2 (Ri Kum Suk 60-, Kim Kyong Hwa 69-)

Australia Line Up: Melissa Barbieri (GK), Kate McShea, Cheryl Salisbury (C), Thea Slatyer, Dianne Alagich; Joanne Peters, Collette McCallum, Sally Shipard (Lauren Colthorpe 80-); Kate Gill (Caitlin Munoz 65-), Joanne Burgess (Lisa De Vanna h/t), Sarah Walsh

Substitutes: Lana Harch, Emma Wirkus (GK), Clare Polkinghorne, Alicia Ferguson

Cautions: McShea 15-, Salisbury 45-

DPR Korea Line-Up: Om Jong Ran, Ho Sun Hui, Kil Son Hui, Ri Un Suk, Ri Kum Suk (C), Ri Un Gyong, Sonu Kyong Sun, Kong Hye Ok, Kim Yong Ae (Kim Kyong Hwa 59-), Jon Myong Hui (GK), Song Jong Sun

Substitutes: Phi Un Hui (GK), Kim Ok Sim, Kim Chun Hui, Jong Pok Sim, Hong Myong Gum

Cautions: Song Jong Sun 72-

Referee: Sachiko Baba (Japan) Assistant Referee 1: Saori Takahashi (Japan) Assistant Referee 2: Shiho Ayukai (Japan) Fourth Official: Mariko Iwaki (Japan)

Attendance: 2,121

Australian squad: Goalkeepers - Melissa Barbieri (Melbourne), Emma Wirkus (Adelaide)

Defenders - Di Alagich (Sydney), Rhian Davies (Sydney), Heather Garriock (Sydney), Kate McShea (Brisbane), Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane), Cheryl Salisbury (Newcastle), Thea Slatyer (Sydney)

Midfielders - Lauren Colthorpe (Newcastle), Alicia Ferguson (Brisbane), Lana Harch (Brisbane), Collette McCallum (Perth), Joanne Peters (Newcastle), Sally Shipard (Canberra), Danielle Small (Sydney)

Forwards - Joanne Burgess (Sydney), Lisa DeVanna (Perth), Kate Gill (Newcastle), Caitlin Munoz (Canberra), Sarah Walsh (Sydney) (current home city)

The Matildas have already qualified for the 2007 FIFA Women-s World Cup to be held in China this September where they have been drawn against Norway, Canada and Ghana.

FIXTURES Australia v Hong Kong 15-0 Saturday 7 April, 3pm BCU International Stadium, Coffs Harbour

Chinese Taipei v Australia 0-10 Sunday 15 April, 4pm Chungshan Stadium, Kaohslung, Chinese Taipei

DPR Korea v Australia 2-0 Sunday 3 June Yanggakdo Stadium, Pyongyang

Australia v North Korea 0-2 Sunday 10 June, 3pm BCU International Stadium, Coffs Harbour

Hong Kong v Australia Saturday 4 August Venue TBC

Australia v Chinese Taipei Sunday 12 August, 3pm BCU International Stadium, Coffs Harbour

TICKETS Tickets for the Matildas matches in Coffs Harbour are available online via www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au, from the Coffs Harbour City Council-s central ticketing system located at the Jetty Memorial Theatre, phone: 02 6652 8088 Mon-Fri 10.00am - 4.00pm, or at the gate on match day.

TV SBS will have LIVE coverage of the team-s match against Chinese Taipei on Sunday 12 August. The match will be shown LIVE as “The World Game” weekly Football Feature from 3:00pm.

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