Offensive star Ji So-yun will lead South Korea to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.
Ji, Chelsea Ladies stalwart and the reigning Player of the Year in English women’s football, was among 23 players named to the national team Friday.
Head coach Yoon Duk-yeo had built a 26-player provisional squad late last month and whittled it down to 23 players after a few days of training this month. From the provisional roster, goalkeeper Yoon Sa-rang, midfielder Park Hee-young and midfielder Lee Young-ju missed the final cut.
Ji, the leading scorer on the team with 38 goals in 74 international matches, will be the go-to attacker on Yoon’s team. Joining Ji on offense is Yeo Min-ji, who led South Korea to the 2010 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup title. Yeo was the top scorer and the MVP of that tournament, too.
Park Eun-sun, who plays for a Russian club, WFC Rossiyanka, will be Ji’s sidekick up front. The two teamed up in international play for the first time when South Korea hosted Russia for a friendly in April.
South Korea will be competing in the Women’s World Cup for only the second time, and is still seeking its maiden victory. In 2003, South Korea lost all three group matches, scoring once while giving up 10 goals in the tournament held in the United States.
This year’s tournament will kick off on June 6 in Canada. South Korea has been grouped with Brazil, Spain and Costa Rica in Group E.
Twenty-four nations have been divided into six groups of four. The top two teams from each group, plus the four-best third-place nations, will reach the knockout stage. Yoon has said his goal is to guide South Korea at least to the round of 16.
South Korea will open its campaign against Brazil in Montreal on June 9, and will take on Costa Rica four days later, also in Montreal. The final group match will be against Spain on June 17 in Ottawa.
The Korea Football Association (KFA) said the women’s team will play a practice match against a high school boys’ team on Saturday, and an official team-launching ceremony will take place in Seoul on Monday.
The players will depart for the United States next Wednesday to set up their training camp. South Korea will face the United States in a tune-up match on May 31, followed by another one against a women’s pro club, Sky Blue FC, on June 3. Both of the matches will be in New Jersey.
South Korea will arrive in Montreal on June 4.