It’s been a bumpy start to the road to the first-ever Olympic Games for South Korea. The Korean women’s soccer team defeated Thailand, led by a hat trick from Casey Eugene Fair (Independent) and Chun Garam (KSPO).
Head coach Colleen Bell’s Korean women’s soccer team cruised to a 10-1 victory over Thailand on Saturday at the Xiamen Yigret Stadium in Fujian Province, China, behind hat-trick performances from Fair and Cheon Garam in the first match of Group B of the Asian Qualification Program for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Olympic women’s soccer is more competitive than the 32-nation World Cup, with only 12 nations represented. There are only two tickets allocated to Asia for next year’s Games in Paris. The Asian secondary qualifiers are divided into three groups of four teams, with the first-place team from each group and the best of the second-place teams playing a best-of-four tournament, with only two teams advancing to the finals.
South Korea is in Group B with Thailand, North Korea, and China. They were paired with North Korea and China, two of the strongest teams in Asia. First, they needed to get the most out of their goal differential by defeating their first opponent, Thailand, and then prepare for North Korea and China.
South Korea struggled to find the back of the net against the defensive-minded Thais. Then, in the 33rd minute of the first half, a pair of goals finally opened the scoring. After receiving a pass from Ji So-yeon (Suwon FC) in the middle of the field, Paer’s left-footed turning shot deflected off the opposing goalkeeper and into the back of the net. It was the 2007-born Fair’s A-match debut goal.
Once the goal came, Thailand’s defense began to crumble. South Korea extended their lead in the 36th minute when Chun Garam’s right-footed curling shot hit the opposing goalkeeper’s hand and went into the net, and Kang Chae-rim (Hyundai Steel) scored three minutes later to make it 3-0 at halftime.
The Korean offense was on fire at the start of the second half. Goals from Chun Garam in the fourth minute and Kang Chae-rim in the eighth set the tone for the second half, and the Koreans scored back-to-back goals in the 10th and 20th minutes to complete the hat trick. Goals from Lee Kum-min (Brighton) in the 22nd and Moon Mi-ra (Suwon FC) in the 26th made it 9-0, and Chun Garam completed her hat trick in the 29th minute when she headed home a cross from the left flank by Chu Hyo-joo (Suwon FC). South Korea conceded a late goal to Thailand in stoppage time to put the icing on the cake. 메이저놀이터
With the victory over Thailand, South Korea will play North Korea in the second round on Monday at the same venue. A win over the North Koreans would boost their chances of advancing to the quarterfinals.