By HENRY MORABANG
PAPUA New Guinea may be eliminated from the Under-20 World Cup but they will not forget the only goal scored in their 7-1 loss to North Korea in their final Group A match at the National Football Stadium last night.
Despite letting in seven goals, Nicollette Ageva’s 16th minute effort will be etched in the memories of her entire PNG team and local fans as a fitting way to bow out of the world tournament.
Having lost to Brazil (9-0) and Sweden (6-0), the goal was literally to have PNG register a score in their first foray at this level and coach Lisa Cole’s side, who had improved from game to game, put in another whole-hearted display.
Cole said it was a small victory for her team but it meant a lot.
“It was a relief for the coaching staff and players (to score a goal) as we were hoping to get one at this World Cup and to do it against North Korea, one of the top sides in the Asia Football Confederation, was great,” Cole said.
The American commended her side for not giving up and for trying hard in all their games.
“We made some changes to give some of our other squad members a game and goalkeeper Faith Kasiray put on a brilliant performance at the goalmouth making plenty of saves for PNG.”
North Korea advanced to the quarter-finals having topped group A, while Brazil, who drew 1-1 with Sweden, also qualify with their second place finish — edging Sweden on goal difference.
Ageva, from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, was outstanding upfront, supported by Jacoberth Bani, seeing PNG threaten the North Korean goal on several occassions.
After three early attempts at the goalmouth, goal-keeper Kasiray, who debuted at the World Cup level, was outstanding, saving eight attempts although the North Koreans scored four goals through Ri Un Sim, Kim So Hyang (2) and Ju Hyo Sim to be 4-1 up at the break.
North Korea had better ball control and coordination then the hosts.
The second-half saw Kim So Hyang get her hat-trick off a header to extend the lead to 5-1.
Kasiray was outstanding in both halves keeping out several solid efforts that probably would have seen the Koreans reach double figures had she not performed admirably.
Despite running high on emotion and enthusiasm, PNG still had the same issues with their structure with kicks and passes not finding the mark or play breaking down at regular intervals.
Meanwhile the Koreans made use of the clean passages of play inside PNG territory to score goals.
Wi Jong Sim increased the lead to 6-1 after beating several defenders before slotting it past Kasiray.
Hyang Sim Sung rounded off the scoring a minute into injury time.
By HENRY MORABANG