USA-North Korea: Seeds of a New Women's Football Rivalry Are Sown

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IDecember 8, 2008

It was only less than a month ago that the inaugural FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup was decided with an extra-time goal by Jang Hyon Sun of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, one of Asia's rising powerhouses, in Auckland.

On Saturday, December 7, on the 67th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks, the USA's Under-20 team returned the favor by dethroning the defending champions, two goals to one.

The USA women's association football team, acknowledged as one of the pioneers and flagbearers of the women's game internationally, has had historic rivalries with squads from Brazil, Germany, Sweden, China, Norway, Australia, and Englandm among others. But what can arguably be the rivalry gaining the most steam is that of the USA vs. North Korea, a country that has been reviled for many reasons, and, as a country, is in trouble.

North Korea's men's national team was known for their effort in England in 1966, but their star has faded. "Chollima," as they are called, have taken a back seat to their female counterparts, who are ranked fifth in the world (as of the September 2008 FIFA Rankings).

At the senior level, North Korea and the USA have met only twice since 1995, with the USA winning their first-ever match at Crew Stadium 3-0 at the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup in Columbus, Ohio and a 2-2 draw at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup in Chengdu, China. Overall, if the results from the youth national teams are added, the USA holds a 2-1-1 advantage over

Due to travel restrictions placed by its government, North Korea's national team has been unable to face off against the USA on a regular basis unlike its counterparts from the South.

But if the fact that North Korea winning the Under-17 Women's World Cup at the expense of Kazbek Tambi and his American counterparts isn't enough to convince that a new rivalry in women's football emerging out of its shell, then perhaps hosting an annual series of friendly matches between both countries may confirm that the seeds have been sown.

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