BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — South Korea showed its age in the Women’s World Cup and is now looking toward necessary changes to get to the next level.
The rebuild will be built around 16-year-old phenom Casey Phair, the first multiracial footballer named to the South Korea national team. Phair was born in South Korea to an American father and South Korean mother and resides in New Jersey in the United States.
From a performance side, South Korea closed its tournament with strong play in a 1-1 draw that eliminated both teams. But sending home the two-time champion Germans is considered one of the biggest upsets in tournament history.
From the emotional side, it was likely the final game for this current South Korean team, which is expecting significant turnover with 32-year-old Ji So-yun among those on the way out.
South Korea coach Colin Bell is ready for new players.
“We have to build a new team,” he said. “We need to look at the system in Korea and make the right decisions to secure the future of South Korean football.”
South Korea’s future certainly rides with Phair, who became the youngest player in a World Cup match when she got on the field in the team’s opening match against Colombia.
She earned her first World Cup start in Thursday’s draw with Germany.
“I wanted youth and enthusiasm up front,” Bell said. “It was important to show and prove that we have talented players. That energy went through the whole team.”
Phair nearly scored just two minutes into her start, but her shot on goal hit the post. She felt good about her debut as she prepared to return to the U.S.
“I feel like I’ve gotten more mature about the game,” Phair said. “Especially with older teammates. I thought it was a really great experience.”
Phair played 85 minutes before Bell pulled her; he’s deliberately managing her minutes.
“I don’t want to build somebody up too quickly,” he said, “We have to make sure that we take care of these young players.”
Brooke Evans and Taft Gantt are students at the University of Georgia’s Carmical Sports Media Institute.
AP Women’s World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/fifa-womens-world-cup