Japan, South Korea, China and the Philippines advanced to the semifinals of the Women’s Asian Cup on Sunday and, in doing so, also booked their spots at the 2023 World Cup.
The continental tournament, hosted in India, doubles up as Asia’s qualification for next year’s World Cup with five berths on offer.
Australia, already guaranteed a place at the World Cup as co-host with New Zealand, was eliminated after a surprise 1-0 loss to South Korea in Pune.
Cho So-hyun missed a first half-penalty for the South Koreans but Chelsea star Ji So-yun fired home a spectacular shot with three minutes left to defeat the 2010 champion.
“I am so pleased for my players. The girls have invested so much over the last two years,” South Korea coach Colin Bell said. “It was time to beat one of the big teams and thankfully today was the day.”
Australia had several opportunities to level but failed to take them.
“It’s a tough one,” Australia captain Steph Catley said. “Just devastated to be honest. Standing here I don’t really know how we’ve come out the losers in that game. We had so many chances. Sometimes football can be cruel.”
In Thursday’s semifinals, South Korea will face the Philippines, which beat Taiwan 4-3 in a penalty shootout after the game ended 1-1 to secure a first-ever World Cup spot.
Defending champion Japan thrashed Thailand 7-0 and moves forward to meet China after the eight-time winner beat Vietnam 3-1.
Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan will now play each other in a round-robin format to determine which of the losing quarterfinalists secures Asia’s fifth spot at the World Cup.
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