Nat’l women’s football coach calls on players to ‘break their own barriers’

January 30, 2023

- Colin Bell, head coach of the South Korean women’s national football team, believes his squad has made significant strides during his three-plus years in charge.

The Englishman also thinks there is always more that his players can give. It was the gist of the coach’s message at the start of the team’s first training camp of 2023 on Monday, with the FIFA Women’s World Cup about six months away.

“I am always trying to convince the players that we can do more and we have to reach a level that they’ve never been at before to have a successful World Cup,” Bell told reporters at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan, some 310 kilometers southeast of Seoul. “That takes a lot of determination and a lot of sacrifice. We can’t just turn up and play. That’s not going to work. We have to be doing more and to be prepared to run more and work harder than all the nations.”

Bell insisted players will each have to be driven and self-motivated.

“The girls have to break their own barriers to have a successful World Cup,” he said. “They’re going to have to push themselves harder than they’ve ever pushed themselves before. That will come from each individual player.”

To gear up for the World Cup, Bell will take South Korea to his native England for the Arnold Clark Cup, a four-nation invitational tournament scheduled to run from Feb. 16 to 22. South Korea, world No. 15, will face world No. 4 England, 17th-ranked Italy and No. 20 Belgium. England and Italy will also play at the World Cup.

Bell, who took over South Korea in October 2019, said he has been pleased to see progress in “all areas, tactically and technically,” for the Taegeuk Ladies during his time.

“We’re getting fitter. We have more speed than before,” he said. “The confidence is growing. The girls are beginning to believe more in themselves. That’s based on good preparation.”

South Korea will be playing at their third consecutive Women’s World Cup and fourth overall. They have advanced to the knockouts just once, reaching the round of 16 in 2015 in Canada.

Four years later in France, South Korea lost all three group matches by a combined 8-1.

This year’s World Cup will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, and South Korea will play all of their Group H matches in Australia.

They will open proceedings against 27th-ranked Colombia on July 25 in Sydney and then take on world No. 76 Morocco on July 30 in Adelaide.

South Korea will then close out group play against No. 2 Germany on Aug. 3 in Brisbane.

There are 32 teams at the World Cup, divided into eight groups of four. The top two countries from each group will reach the round of 16.

South Korea will play all knockout matches in Australia, should they make it past the group stage.