The South Korean women’s soccer team, led by head coach Colleen Bell, defeated Thailand in the second Asian qualifier for the Paris Olympics.

The South Korean women’s national soccer team defeated Thailand 10-1 on Saturday in Xiamen, Fujian Province, China, in the first match of Group B at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games Asian Second Qualifying Round. The team scored seven straight goals in the second half.

South Korea was in desperate need of a ‘high-scoring win’ on this day. Both China and North Korea are categorized as “Asian powerhouses,” so they needed to get as many points as possible against the weakest of the four, Thailand.

Divided into three groups, the top three teams from each group and the top three teams from the second group will advance to the quarterfinals. The quarterfinalists will compete in a tournament to determine the two teams that will advance to the Olympic Games.

Bell opted to play the youngest national team member, Casey Eugene Fair (16), up front instead of Son Hwa-yeon (Hyundai Steel), who has typically been used up front, with Chun Garam (21, KSPO) and Kang Chae-rim (25, Hyundai Steel) on the flanks and Ji So-yeon and Jeon Jeon-ha (Suwon FC) in the middle.

The pair scored the first goal in the 33rd minute off a pass from Ji So-yeon. Cheon Garam and Kang Chae-rim then added goals three minutes apart to make it 3-0 at halftime. Chun, Kang, and Paer shared another three straight goals in the first 11 minutes of the second half. Paire completed her hat trick in the 21st minute of the second half off a pass from Lee Geum-min (Brighton).

Her first goal of the day was also her A-Match debut. She became the second youngest player in Korean soccer history to score in an A-Match (16 years, 119 days) after Ji So-yeon, who became 안전놀이터 the youngest player to score in an A-Match at the 2006 Doha Asian Games against Taiwan at the age of 15 years, 282 days. Her second-half hat trick is the youngest ever by a South Korean player in an A-Match, male or female.

Despite the win, South Korea still has a long way to go to qualify for its first-ever Olympic Games. South Korea will face North Korea in the second round on Nov. 29 and China in the third round on Nov. 1. The all-time series between South Korea and North Korea is 20-1-1, with 3 wins, 3 draws and 16 losses in North Korea’s favor. China is also heavily favored, with 41 wins, 5 losses, 7 draws, and 29 defeats.

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