As the first women’s team to book a slot at the Olympics, Korea go to Antwerp in fearless fashion
Korea is the first women's team to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics after the team was victorious at the Asian Games in 2014. Such is the team’s optimism and confidence right now that the head coach says they are eyeing a podium finish in Antwerp and relishing the thought of playing the world’s number one nation, the Netherlands.
The victory at the Asian Games was particularly sweet as it took place in front of a home crowd in Incheon, although head coach Han Jin Soo was pleased with the result for another reason: "We are very happy that our team was qualified earlier than any other teams because now we can prepare for the Olympic Games and concentrate on the next tournament (in Antwerp) without burden. We recognise just how important the Semi-Finals are but now our focus is the Rio Olympic Games, although we will be working very hard to make sure we are at the World League Finals as well.”
Since Korea qualified, Han Jin Soo has made some additions to his squad, bringing in a number of junior players. These players have been integrated through a series of practice matches and tournaments played over the past few months, including practice matches against Japan and China. The Korean team also participated in the Eight Nations Tournament in New Zealand, where the team finished fourth, ahead of Argentina, USA, Japan and India
Speaking about his team’s strengths and weaknesses as it approaches the next few months, Han says: “The biggest advantage our team has over many opponents is our speed in attack.” He explains that this is something that transcends all the age-groups as well as the senior team. “We have a lot of excellent junior teams in Korea and we bring the best of them into the senior squad step by step. I expect that Korea women's team will be even more speedy and active in Antwerp.”
He says that Korea really needs to be consistently playing high level international matches, although he says that since winning gold in the Asian Games the international calendar has expanded so the team has played played many more internationals than usual.”
And demonstrating Korea’s fearless approach to the Semi-Finals, Han says that the team he is looking forward to facing the most is the current number one team, the Netherlands.
Korea’s first opponent in Antwerp is Italy, with that much anticipated fixture with the Netherlands takes place the following day.