Women’s national soccer team head coach Colin Bell’s favorite and most used Korean phrase is “high intensity.
Whenever the team gathers for an A-match or international tournament, Bell’s mantra is “play hard, play aggressively, play with high intensity.” It’s become such an ingrained team philosophy that the Korea Football Association (KFA) has chosen “Go High, Go Strong, Go Do” as the team’s slogan for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which kicks off on Tuesday.
Bell favors a dynamic style of soccer that is non-stop. Naturally, he believes that physical fitness is key to being able to play more and create more chances than the opposition. That’s why fitness tests and physical strengthening exercises are always on the agenda whenever the team is called up. It’s a way of checking the players’ physical condition, as well as their commitment and attitude towards the national team.
As expected, the intensity was much higher in the lead-up to the World Cup. It’s the highest level of competition since Bell took over in October 2019, and the eyes of the soccer world are on this tournament. The team, which has set its sights on the round of 16 or better, has been training at the National Training Center (NFC) in Paju, Gyeonggi-do, 메이저놀이터 since last month, sweating it out in a heatwave of more than 30 degrees Celsius. With the announcement of the final roster (23 players) on the 5th and the final evaluation match against Haiti on the 8th at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, it is said that Coach Bell pushed the players to the limit to the point where the atmosphere maker Jang Seul-ki (29-Hyundai Steel) complained that his “appetite was gone”.
There is a reason. South Korea, in Group H of the tournament, will face Colombia in Sydney on Aug. 25 and Morocco in Adelaide on Aug. 30. With a third match against one of the world’s strongest teams, Germany, in Brisbane on August 3, they need to take maximum points from the first two games. It’s all on the line from game one.
They must also be prepared for a long extra time. We saw that at last year’s World Cup in Qatar. Instead of 90 minutes, there were many 100-minute matches, and many goals were scored in those matches. The teams that stayed focused and tireless until the end paid off. Although the stage is different, Bell has taken note of FIFA’s desire to “minimize the time wasted in football matches”. Veteran Ji So-yeon (32-Suwon FC Wimin), who is making her third career World Cup appearance, agreed: “Physical fitness is important to keep up with the pressure and activity.”