SEOUL – Defending champion Japan had to make do with a share of the points as it was held to a 0-0 draw against North Korea in its second game of the women’s competition at the East Asian Cup on Thursday.
Striker Yuki Ogimi twice went close to marking her 100th national team appearance with a goal in steamy conditions at Hwaseong Stadium, but the well-organized North Koreans stood firm and the result leaves both teams with four points.
Women’s world champion Japan opened with a 2-0 win over China on Saturday and North Korea beat South Korea 2-1 on Sunday.
“Considering the heat I thought the players did well and tried to get forward and think this gives us a platform to build on for the next match (on Saturday against South Korea),” said Japan coach Norio Sasaki.
Japan captain Aya Miyama was a bit more critical of the team’s performance.
“It was pathetic,” said Miyama. “It’s not about our opponents. There were a lot of situations where we weren’t able to play the way we wanted to play and were not all on the same wavelength. We have to take a good look at ourselves.”
There were few clear-cut chances for either side in a tightly contested first half. Miyama tried her luck from distance with a shot that was gathered by North Korea goalkeeper Hong Myong Hui in the 39th minute.
But it was the North Koreans that went closest to breaking the deadlock in injury time when Ri Ye Gong hit the bar from just inside the area.
Chelsea striker Ogimi was thwarted by Hong from close range in the 47th minute and then again midway through the second half, before substitute Mana Iwabuchi nearly won it late on with a lovely shot that Hong turned around the post with her left leg.